Dafydd Charles

It was the summer of 2017 and I was approaching 60. I was six months into my retirement, when my physiotherapist suggested that I go to my GP for a routine discussion about prostate health. Although my father was diagnosed with prostate cancer in his mid-eighties (and subsequently passed away from an unrelated cause), I had not considered this to be a warning sign due to his age, particularly as I had no symptoms whatsoever and was enjoying great health. I had just completed two self-supported treks, in the French Alps and in the UK (walking around the entire coast of Anglesey). To my great shock I was diagnosed with a high grade disease (Gleason 9) in December 2017. Following discussions with my medical team I underwent a robotically-assisted prostatectomy a month later. As a precaution a small number of neighbouring lymph nodes were removed during surgery, and about a quarter of these were found to be cancerous. My PSA rose slowly during the spring and summer of 2018, and after some additional investigations, more neighbouring lymph nodes were found to be positive, though thankfully the disease had not yet spread to my bones. Since then I have undergone nearly two years of hormone therapy, 6 cycles of chemotherapy and nearly two months of daily radiotherapy to my pelvis. During this time I exercised regularly, particularly during my radiotherapy in London when I engaged with a small company that designs gym-based programmes for men recovering from prostate cancer. I really feel that keeping active in this way has helped me to manage my fatigue and boost my overall health and wellbeing. Although feeling a bit battered and bruised at the turn of events I am now well and ready to resume life with renewed vigour.

One of my passions, and the reasons for my wanting to be on the Committee of the OPCSG, is to support other men coming to terms with their diagnosis and treatment of prostate cancer. I am keen to share the knowledge and experience I have acquired during my own extended therapy on how we can help our medical teams and strengthen our health by adopting complementary actions, such as changing our diet. Also very important is maintaining a positive outlook as much as is possible in the face of what seems initially to be absolutely devastating news.

Other organisations such as Prostate Cancer UK and Macmillan out there on the internet provide very valuable advice and help, but the strength of a local group such as the OPCSG is that men can meet and offer each other help face to face. From expert speakers at the regular meetings men can hear about the latest developments in treatment and how to manage life after diagnosis as best they can. This human contact makes all the difference.