A PROSTATE cancer diagnosis has twice knocked the wind out of Barry Spilstead but he said the disease has given him a new lease on life.
September is Prostate Cancer Awareness Month and Mr Spilstead said a quick examination could help to save your life.
While he admits the digital exam is embarrassing and a little uncomfortable, these few minutes have helped to save countless lives, including his own.
For many years Mr Spilstead had also undergone a prostate specific antigen (PSA) blood test that can signify looming prostate problems.
His first diagnosis came on August 22, 2002 when he was just 56.
“In those early days they said we’ll leave the treatment choice up to you,” he said.
Mr Spilstead said back then there was not as much support and available information as there is today.
He decided to get surgery on his prostate, and after months of recuperation he was determined to get on with life.
Just two years later he received the shocking news his prostate cancer had come back.
“I was fit, I wasn’t a smoker, I was healthy,” he said of the shock.
“I thought about what it’d do to my family.”
His second diagnosis led to a bout of radiotherapy in Sydney.
“Having prostate cancer is not a death sentence,” he said.
Mr Spilstead said he is thankful he had undergone regular testing prior to his initial diagnosis and said it led to early detection of his prostate cancer.
Despite his diagnosis, testing for many can be simple, quick and lead to a clean bill of health.
While he admits his prostate cancer diagnosis and treatment was tough, it has changed his life for the better.
“I’m more confident to talk to other people about it,” he said.
“I feel better than I did 15 years ago.
“It’s given me a second and a third chance at life.
“I love a red wine and a dark chocolate more than I ever did.”
Prostate cancer tests can be done through a prostate specific antigen (PSA) blood test and/or by a digital rectal examination.
The Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia recommend that men over 50 years old, or 40 with a family history of prostate cancer, should speak to their doctor about getting tested.
For more information visit www.prostate.org.au