Prostate cancer: Great grandfather urges men with symptoms to seek help early

By Aideen O'Flaherty 

A GREAT-GRANDFATHER has spoken out about what life has been like following a diagnosis of advanced prostate cancer, and he is urging men who may be experiencing symptoms to seek help early. 

Paddy Smith (70), from Killinarden in Tallaght, received his diagnosis in late 2017, after experiencing a number of symptoms that he initially brushed off, as he hoped they would resolve themselves.

Paddy Smith 07 1

Paddy Smith

“It started out with some pain around my groin area, which I ignored,” Paddy, a retired handyman who used to work on building sites, told The Echo.

“I had seen and read a few things that mentioned prostate cancer after that, and I noticed I had some of the symptoms.

“When I went to wee, the water came out like an umbrella, and it felt like I was peeing through barbed wire.”

The father-of-seven then went to his GP, where he did a blood test, and within two days was in the St Luke’s Radiation Oncology Centre in St James’s Hospital to receive treatment for prostate cancer.

“When I got the tests done there, they said I had advanced prostate cancer,” Paddy explained. “I had six months of hormone injections, to cut off testosterone to stop the cancer spreading.

“After that I had 38 radiation treatments over seven-and-a-half weeks, then I went back on the injections and medication.”

Paddy Smith 01 1

Paddy with family members

Last April, doctors stopped treating Paddy’s cancer as they said the side-effects of the injections and medications would lead to irreparable bone damage, and they added that the cancer would “never go away” and that they will reassess his treatment options when his condition worsens.

Paddy gets his prostate-specific antigen (PSA) levels checked regularly, as a raised level could indicate that the cancer is spreading, but he is feeling well at the moment and his PSA levels aren’t a concern to medical staff.

“They said that my PSA levels are marvellous at the moment,” he said, “but they said that the cancer will never go away.

“It will eventually kill me – it can get into my bones. At the moment, I’ve to sit back and wait.

“When it comes back again and gets worse, then there are some treatments I can try.”

Paddy fills his time by looking after his racing pigeons, and spending time with his wife Vera, their grown-up children, their eight grandchildren and their great-grandchild.

As for other men who may feel embarrassed or unsure about getting symptoms they’re experiencing, that may be indicative of prostate cancer, checked out, Paddy said: “I’d tell them not to be embarrassed.

“If I went sooner, I could’ve sorted this and had my prostate taken out. If they think they might have it, they can go to their doctor, get a blood test and take it from there.

“And there’s not a bit of embarrassment in the treatment – the staff in St James’s are marvellous.”

Paddy is holding an online fundraiser for the Irish Cancer Society at www.justgiving.com/fundraising/paddysmith1950-smith1, in order to give back following his treatment in St James’s and to fund research in prostate cancer.

“It’s very important to me to raise money for them, because they looked after me so well and it’s time for me to give something back,” added Paddy.

“I also want to say thanks to the staff of St Luke’s Radiation Oncology Centre, including Dr Cunningham and the people in the background who decide what treatment you get – they’re unseen and they get no thanks, so I want to say thank you to them too.”

Further information about prostate cancer, including symptoms to look out for and available treatments, can be accessed on the Irish Cancer Society’s website, www.cancer.ie.

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