Charlotte’s father was diagnosed with prostate cancer eight years ago. A five-time Mo Sista, she’s written about her family’s experience with the disease.
My Dad was an incredibly healthy, fit and strong man who routinely went to his GP every year for an annual check-up which included a PSA test. In 2007 while riding with his peloton, a rider fell and he lunged out to stop her fall and in doing so broke his shoulder. Although he was at the doctors six months ahead of his annual check-up he said; 'what the heck, may as well test for prostate cancer’. The results came back positive.
As soon as Dad found out he started talking about it, and it was a good thing he did – he inspired friends and family to get tested and a close family friend caught his prostate cancer early. Recently my uncle did too, after starting regular checks.
In 2012, despite surgery and hormone treatment, we got the news Dad's prostate cancer had spread to his bones and with secondary tumours in his lungs, it wasn't looking good. He was going to have to start chemotherapy.
This news devastated our family. We all thought it was under control but he was fighting an uphill battle. Dad, the eternal optimist, when faced with this news said, 'Great, I'll save money on haircuts'.
You feel powerless when someone you love is suffering and I needed to do something. I've always supported colleagues and friends with their Movember campaigns and that year I thought – I'm going to do it! So if Dad was going to lose his magnificent moustache from chemotherapy, I could wear one and hopefully inspire men out there to get a health check or at least raise some coin for prostate cancer research.
The eight years since Dad was diagnosed have been some of the best. Mum and Dad traveled the world many times over. Dad became a grandad to my brother's kids. Dad and I went on surfing adventures up the coast, to Bali, and on ski trips to the US and Japan. We cherished every moment as a family and soaked up every second we had with Dad. I have no doubt that Movember funded research into prostate cancer helped him thrive in those eight years as new drugs and treatments came out.
Dad didn't really seem unwell until the very end. He was admitted to hospital on the 1st of November last year, unable to walk as the prostate cancer had spread to his skull putting pressure on his brain. On the morning of November 20 he slipped away.
Prostate cancer didn't just take my Dad, it took my best friend.
I fell pregnant the week we lost my beautiful Dad. I'd like to imagine my son growing up in a world where prostate cancer can be cured. In a world where the way Dad freely talked about his health and his regular health checks isn’t unique, but the norm. Although he lost his battle after eight years he may have lost it sooner had he not caught it early. Not a day goes by that I don't think about the advice he'd give or what he'd do in a situation. He's inspired so much of my life and during Movember he inspired me to wear a moustache.
Charlotte Connell, Mo Sista since 2012
Visit Charlotte's Movember fundraising page