25 November 2014

Irish rugby Legend Tony Ward speaks about his prostate cancer journey.

Tony Ward: My Prostate Cancer Journey
We caught up with Movember Ambassador Tony Ward this week to talk to him about his journey with prostate cancer. It was an amazing pleasure to hear an Irish man speak with such openness and honesty about his health. Tony was diagnosed with prostate cancer two and a half years ago and kept the news amongst close friends and family.  But after he heard Packie Bonner speaking publically about his health, he realised the potential benefit he could have in speaking about his battle with cancer. He wants to encourage other men to more dilegently look after their health by getting more regular checks. It's amazing to have an amazing ambassador like Tony to be representing The Movember Foundation . Here’s his story:

In the period of around 2007 – 2009, I found I was going to the toilet a little bit more. I was getting up in the middle of the night once or twice to go to the toilet. I was conscious of this, as I’m usually fairly aware of various health issues. I knew that blood was one of the obvious signs and if you saw it your urine, there was definitely something wrong, but I didn’t have any of those things. It was literally just more times going to the loo, so I assumed that, like most men, it was an age thing.

So I eventually decided to go and get my normal checkup and again I was thinking it was nothing serious. Although it had been about three years since I got my previous one. I found out that such a period of time was actually too long, you should really go every year, particularly when you get over 50. So the doctor checked my PSA levels and said that there was an immediate issue there. They sent me to a specialist and checked to see what the symptoms were by doing a digital rectal exam and a blood sample that  PSA levels were through the roof. Immediately, they put implants into my arms, which works to keep all one’s manly functions going after treatment.

I then went in for brachytherapy, where they give you 5 weeks worth of radiation in a 10 minute blast. It was really intense. So I had that in the Matter hospital with an epidural with Michael Marr. He drew sketches, which helped me in dealing with my treatment in a big way. I could see what was going to be done and gained an enhanced understanding of what I was about to go through. I gained huge trust in the process through this and have the doctors and nurses to thank for this. After the operation, the treatment was followed up by 5 weeks daily radiation in the Beacon Hospital. That was all two and a half years ago now. So I’m on the mend and dealing with my health in a far different way now. I get regular health check and encourage men that I know to do the same.

So that’s briefly my story of what it was like going through the treatment and
But the main message is to get checked. If you have any doubt at all there is no excuse. Like getting involved in Movember, you should make it part of your yearly routine; go and get seen to by your doctor. We joke about it, men get their cars checked more than they do themselves. It’s nonsense.”

Tony spoke about the huge help that both doctors and nurses were throughout his disease. Having well-informed, compassionate carers were a huge part in allowing Tony to keep positive throughout his battle with prostate cancer. This is why The Movember Foundation focuses on raising money to fund specialist prostate cancer nurses and increase the level of care that exists for prostate cancer patients all over Ireland.
Tony’s mission since deciding to speak about his cancer, is to encourage more men to get checked regularly by their doctors. Prostate cancer is a disease that is far easier to treat when caught early.
For more information on Prostate Cancer Treatment and detection methods go to The Movember Prostate Cancer Page and
The Irish Cancer Society’s Prostate Cancer Page.

Listen to Tony’s interview with Matt Cooper on Today FM.