For Harfield Village financial planner Darren Robertson, his prostate cancer diagnosis a year ago was the beginning of a journey which has taken him from the first, nervous visit to his urologist Dr Karlheinz Jehle, to a firm friendship that has seen the two men riding the Wines2Whales Mountain Bike Race together.
Mr Robertson is a Mo Bro for Movember, a global men’s health charity tackling prostate cancer, testicular cancer, mental health and suicide prevention. He describes his cancer journey as being “surprisingly positive”. But that doesn’t mean it was easy. He first heard he had prostate cancer at just 40 years old. He and his wife Loren had an eight-month-old baby. He was diagnosed with Stage 1 cancer, but a full biopsy carried out after his prostate and seminal vessels were removed in January, showed that his cancer was actually stage 3, and that it had invaded his lymph nodes.
“I was lucky,” he says. “If I had not gone for the check up, and if my GP had not suggested a full blood test and prostate-specific antigen (PSA) measurement, it would have been a very different story.”
It was during one of his frequent check-ups with Dr Jehle that the two men got talking about mountain biking.
“He had some mountain biking pictures on the wall, and it wasn’t long before we decided to go on some rides,” Mr Robertson says.
“I didn’t imagine that it would lead to us undertaking the Wines2Whales together,” Dr Jehle says, “but when Darren suggested to me that it would be a great way to spread the Movember word about the importance of early detection and regular check-ups, I agreed immediately.”
Dr Jehle is quick to praise
Mr Robertson for his bravery in speaking out about his journey with the disease that is the leading cancer among South African men. As many as 1 in 5 South African men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime, with black men more likely to get a more aggressive form of prostate cancer, and at a younger age.
“Men are dying too soon because they are not going for screenings. The rule of thumb is to have your prostate checked at 45 if you are black or if you have a family history of the disease, and at 50 for everyone else. But if you are worried, go sooner,” he says.
“Early detection of prostate cancer can make all the difference. It is so important that men realise that life after a prostate cancer diagnosis is not as bad as you think. It is not the end of your sex life.”
Mr Robertson agrees: “I felt calm and supported through the whole process,” he says. “Even the dreaded digital exam wasn’t as bad as everyone makes out – it was so quick and painless. Take it from me – an early cancer diagnosis is immeasurably better than leaving it too late.”
Sign up as a Mo Bro or Mo Sista to raise funds and awareness for Movember. Grow a Mo, host and attend an event, or move and you can be the difference in a man’s life. For more details, visit www.za.movember.com or download the Movember app on your mobile device.
Signs and symptoms of prostate cancer
A need to urinate frequently, especially at night
Difficulty starting urination or holding back urine
Weak or interrupted flow of urine
Painful or burning urination
Difficulty in having an erection
Blood in urine or semen
Frequent pain or stiffness in the lower back, hips, or upper thighs