Health battle fought side-by-side prompts mates to open up
IT MIGHT make some men blush to talk about urine, bladder control and pelvic floor muscles, but these topics became casual conversation for Warwick blokes Dave Carr and Paul Maher not long ago.
Since fighting prostate cancer side-by-side in hospital, the two mates have spoken up about their journey in a bid to end secrecy surrounding Australia's most common type of cancer.
Mr Maher and Mr Carr, who have known each other for 40 years, were diagnosed with prostate cancer by the same doctor, on the same day, three months ago and have been fighting the disease together ever since.
On 26 October, they both underwent surgery within a few of hours of one another at St Andrew's Hospital in Toowoomba.
"I think everyone should go into surgery with a buddy,” Mr Carr said.
From their first biopsies to post-operative rehabilitation, the pair overcame isolation by sharing their experience.
"For men, all this stuff can be quite secretive,” Mr Carr said.
"Having (Paul) there, I think I just treated it as fun. You feel more comfortable and a bit happier when you have someone you know.”
Now six weeks into recovery, both men have revealed the details of their treatment.
"It started off with some weeing troubles a few years ago,” Mr Carr said.
"I was reluctant to get the digital test (rectal examination) at first.”
But Mr Maher said there were no noticeable symptoms prior to his diagnosis.
Both men urged others to ask their GP about prostate cancer and get annual blood tests.
"And don't be afraid of the treatment. There can be the erection and sperm issues once the prostate is out, but the surgery is so good these days you can overcome those side effects,” he said.
In the post-operative phase, both men had a urinary catheter, wore "nappies” and did pelvic floor exercises to increase bladder control.
"Talking about your privates, blokes clam up a bit more but this is the stuff we should be talking about,” Mr Carr said.
Mr Maher said if opening up about the experience helped other men get tested, it was worth it.
"Since being affected I have asked quite a few blokes if they had been tested and there is surprisingly quite a few that haven't,” he said.
"If (Dave and I) can just get one each to go and get a blood test then you feel as if you've achieved something.”
Mr Maher said he was happy to talk to anyone who was "next in line” for prostate surgery.