By Lauren Russell
A cancer survivor is on a mission to get men across the country to get themselves checked.
Paul Ricketts, from Kidbrooke, was diagnosed with prostate cancer in late 2018, despite not showing any symptoms at all.
Since his treatment Ricketts, who works as a motorbike mechanic, has been emphasising the importance for all men to get themselves checked as catching prostate cancer early can extend your life by ten to fifteen years.
The 62-year-old’s plea comes at a crucial time for South London hospitals which are being hit by a cancer bottle-neck after hospitals were clogged up with Covid patients.
With new NHS data showing how the crippling effects of Covid-19 have meant that large numbers of people have been reluctant to burden doctors with their symptoms, or have mistaken them for Covid.
Prompted by the traumatic loss of his 74-year-old father to the disease in 2000, Ricketts booked in for a blood test at his local GP surgery to check his prostate-specific antigen levels.
His reading came back as high, so Ricketts was sent to Guy’s & St Thomas’ NHS Trust, for further tests including a prostate biopsy.
He said: “Everything happened very quickly but at the same time everything was fully explained to me.
“By this stage, I was pretty certain that I had prostate cancer.”
A week after Ricketts biopsy consultant Dr Rick Popert confirmed cancer on both sides of his prostate.
Being only marginal on one side and that it hadn’t spread elsewhere, Ricketts chose to undergo low-dose-rate brachytherapy beginning on December 9, 2018.
He has been in remission since 2018 and Doctors have said his PSA might even reach negative figures.
“Given what I’d seen my dad go through, I was pretty rattled,” he said.
“It was a day treatment; they did everything they said they would do and I felt good afterwards.
“The advances we’ve made since my father went through prostate cancer have been quite incredible.”
Over two years later Ricketts remains grateful to the NHS and recalls how everything was explained to him as it was taking place and why.
He still feels confident that the right decision was made for him and his family after being given lots of information and choice throughout the process.
He said: “I know the cancer won’t fully go away, but that’s fine.
“My lifestyle is pretty good.”
The advice he would give to anyone who receives a diagnosis would be to get a rigorous explanation and a complete picture of the options open to them.
Sara Bainbridge, head of policy at Macmillan Cancer Support said: “In London, thousands of people are still missing a diagnosis since the start of the pandemic.
“It’s vital that cancer services continue to be prioritised and that those with cancer are not forgotten.”
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