Chance cancer diagnosis saves ‘lucky’ man
DOUG Meiklejohn, 68, never saw his cancer diagnosis as a death sentence.
The prostate cancer survivor spent years of his life in and out of hospital beds, operating theatres, and waiting rooms and has lived to tell the story after the cancer was discovered during a routine blood test.
Now, during prostate cancer awareness month, Mr Meiklejohn is urging residents to have the test, and find support as early as possible.
Mr Meiklejohn said he was "lucky" to have received the diagnosis when he did.
"I've been going to the doctor's pretty consistently since I was 22 because I suffer hypertension and high blood pressure," he said.
"It's just one of those things - my GPs have done blood tests in relation to cholesterol and checking the cardiovascular side of things, and then they started adding the test for the PSA (prostate specific antigen).
"It was only as the result of a routine blood test that showed my PSA rose from 4.4 to 5.6 in about a 12 month period and that was considered a high rate of change."
Initial tests indicated the cancer was "low grade", but after surgery meant to rid Mr Meiklejohn's body of the cancer, he was told he actually had a high grade cancer, and began more intense radiation therapy and chemotherapy in the months that followed.
His PSA levels continued to rise despite trying every avenue of treatment, and the cancer was growing rapidly.
Mr Meiklejohn said he didn't take the diagnosis as a threat on his life, instead powering through treatment supported by his fellow survivors and family.
"I wasn't particularly perturbed by being told I had cancer," he said.
"Joining the support group may have allayed some of the fears people had.
"When you hear the word cancer people have fear.
"When people are told they have hypertension or high blood pressure, what fear do they have then?"
He joined the Prostate Cancer Support Group based in Toowoomba the very same month he was diagnosed, and said he had strong support from that group as well as his wife and children.
Now, Mr Meiklejohn is a survivor with an almost undetectable PSA and is a part of a trial involving exercise physiology.
As for the fear cancer tends to invoke, Mr Meiklejohn said cancer was not always synonymous with death.
"Years ago we used to say cancer is a word, it's not a life sentence," he said.
"Many people have cancer, have treatment, and have a reasonable life after that."
Originally published as Chance cancer diagnosis saves ‘lucky’ man