If it wasn’t for his partner’s need for a good night’s sleep, 64-year-old Geoff Murch might no longer be with us.
Waking up numerous times a night to empty his bladder had become normal to Geoff, but for his partner Gilda, the disturbed nights became too much.
At Gilda’s plea, it was off to the doctor for Geoff. After a consultation he was referred to the Calvary Hospital in North Adelaide for a PSA test. After further tests, Geoff was diagnosed with stage 1 prostate cancer – a complete shock.
“I was gutted. I thought, boy I’m a goner here. You get the big C and that’s the end of you.”
His diagnosis brought back memories of a bone cancer diagnosis 25 years ago, which gave his first wife only 12 months to live.
“We were high school sweethearts and had been married for 22 years. I never accepted that she was going to pass on. They’re making new discoveries every day so I always said: when there’s life there’s hope.”
“After the diagnosis she was with us for 16 months. She passed away at home in my arms. She was only 39.”
“At the time my daughter was only 17 and my son was 20. It really was a dreadful time of our lives.”
It was perhaps this will to fight that helped Geoff battle his own cancer diagnosis. He fully investigated a number of treatments; total removal of the prostate, chemotherapy, seeds implanted and radiotherapy.
He also heard about high dose radiation in Melbourne, and opted for the interstate treatment.
“You can’t worry about pride or be embarrassed because there are doctors and nurses coming in to check everything. But if I didn’t go through with the treatment I wouldn’t be here, so you have to allow it to happen.”
Even though he suffered some side effects from treatment, Geoff is just grateful to be alive.
Before and after the treatment Geoff sought support from a group of men at Burnside in Adelaide, who had been through the same thing.
“I realised how lucky I was not to have had the cancer metastasise and spread to other areas, like many men had.”
He met a 35-year-old man with small children, who eventually died from the disease.
“That was one of the saddest funerals I’ve ever been to.”
Since his diagnosis in 2006, Geoff believes men are more comfortable speaking about their experiences and he encourages anyone who has been diagnosed to seek help from others.
“It’s not a death sentence any longer and the main thing is to join a support group. It’s good to have friendship with people who have been through the same thing.”
“Explore all options as far as treatment goes; find out what treatments others had, find out how successful they were and what the side effects were.”
He also encourages men to get a regular PSA blood test and watch out for the signs.
“There’s all sort of symptoms; slow stream, fast stream, frequency.”
Geoff is a strong supporter of medical research and is hopeful preventative treatments will be discovered.
“Prevention would stop a lot of heart ache and a lot of family grief that happens when family members are going through treatment.”
“Research is just essential. It should be fully supported by everybody, not just people who have been through the disease.”