Invest better by staying alive!

Monday, Mar 05 2012 by

Dear Stockopediacs

Despite my fairly high profile in ‘another place’, I’m generally quite a private person, and I usually avoid engaging publicly with others on subjects that I would regard as no-one else’s business.

However, I'm making an exception on a matter that has recently affected my health and future longevity.

Last autumn I discovered that I had prostate cancer, and following consultation and a number of investigations (bone and MRI scans and a set of biopsies), I decided to go for brachytherapy, a procedure that implants radioactive seeds in the prostate under a general anaesthetic.

I won’t know the outcome for some months, as the seeds take a while to destroy tumours and reduce a measurement known as PSA (prostate specific antigen), which is an indicator of cancerous cells in the gland.

It is a little over three weeks since the procedure, and I feel fine, and am engaging in most normal activities, including an active social life.

I get periods of tiredness, and the waterworks are a bit tricky, but nothing that requires painkillers or is stopping me getting on with things.

The reason that I am posting now is that I have signed up for a walk up Snowdon (the highest peak south of the Scottish border) in May, to raise money for the excellent prostate research charity run by University College London.

There’s a link to the Snowdon500 Challenge site at the bottom of this post.

It may not be widely known, but this type of cancer affects over 50% of all males in the population. Usually, as it’s a slow growing type of cancer, chaps die of something else first. But that leaves 10,000 men a year in UK dying as a direct consequence of the disease.

Having spent the last three or four months sifting through information on this I am convinced that there is an excellent chance of significant improvements in the diagnosis and treatment of prostate cancer in the coming years, and I believe that money donated to this cause is money very well spent.

My ‘Just Giving’ website is here, and it would be terrific to see a substantial sum from my fellow investors for a good cause. If I die on the mountain it won’t have been for…

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9 Posts on this Thread show/hide all

Isaac 5th Mar '12 1 of 9

Good Luck on your climb, I hope it goes well for you & you raise lots of money.

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KingMcKong 5th Mar '12 2 of 9

Good Luck on your climb, I hope it goes well for you & you raise lots of money

Thanks, Isaac.

People have been very generous so far. Heading up towards £1,000, and that's since this afternoon!  :-)  :-)


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loglorry 5th Mar '12 3 of 9

Hi kmk

My father had the same 5 years ago with the same treatment he made a great recovery.

I wish you well take care


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KingMcKong 5th Mar '12 4 of 9

In reply to post #64525

Thanks, log! Great to hear your father's outcome. Your post really appreciated :-)


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MadDutch 6th Mar '12 5 of 9

Meeting you again here gives me a lot of pleasure, I wish you a speedy recovery, and hope to see your great sense of humour here as well as on TMF.


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Salmonfly 6th Mar '12 6 of 9

I've never made an Edinburgh Fool social, but have read many, many of your posts. A good friend of mine is in the same position as you; sadly with a less optimistic prognosis. Very best wishes for a speedy recovery, and good luck on the mountain!! Hope the sun shines, it's a good view!


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emptyend 6th Mar '12 7 of 9

I'm very happy to support an effort by an mountain gorilla to colonise new habitats in foreign parts, even if the vegetation is less than verdant in North Wales! :-)

I will be on the lookout for any reports of the mooted visit to the gym bar having inadvertently resulted in some "training" - and will be demanding to know the precise nature of such workouts, in case they also involve familiarisation visits to Waverley to check on certain aspects of training for Snowdon ;-) 

Hope all goes well - and the weather stays fine!  If it doesn't, you'll be in for a cooler version of a well-known film  ;-)

And it is, of course, fitting that someone familiar with oil companies in Edinburgh should be greeted by this sight at the top.

Back on the topic of prostate cancer, there are some interesting stats here for those of us chaps who are "getting on a bit". There are roughly 37,000 new cases of prostate cancer diagnosed each year, which puts it right up there as one of the most common cancers - and it is the dominant type of cancer in men (see fig 2.5 here). As that page also notes:

Prostate cancer is the third fastest increasing cancer in males, with age-standardised rates rising by more than one-third (36%) in the last decade. The use of PSA testing for prostate cancer will have contributed to the marked increase in new diagnoses of this disease

The relatively good news (compared to very aggressive and rapidly-developing cancers like pancreatic cancer) is that many people who get it can live for some or even many years, providing it is diagnosed and treated early enough to avoid metastases diagnosis and treatment are key.

With proper treatment, followed by a bit of luck, there's a fair chance that something else a little nicer will knock one off first - such as liver damage induced by claret or Bruichladdich....or perhaps some consequence of unexpected over-excitement as an important element of one's investment portfolio finally gets taken over at a vast premium  ;-)

Anyway - good luck with the walk up Snowdon. Whatever cash is raised (and I hope it is a lot) it is also important to make the most of the opportunity to get out in the clean fresh air, give the lungs a damned good workout and add to the timbre of your voice for the next jazz programme!

all the best





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peterg 6th Mar '12 8 of 9

In reply to post #64537

The relatively good news (compared to very aggressive and rapidly-developing cancers like pancreatic cancer) is that many people who get it can live for some or even many years, providing it is diagnosed and treated early enough to avoid metastases diagnosis and treatment are key.

Some data that I read some years ago, when I developed a reason for having an interest in the subject, claimed, from post mortem studies of prostates, that nearly every man who reached 80 or more, had cancerous cells in the prostate, most of them just never knew about it, and in most cases it never caused any symtoms (beyond the "standard" ones that get us all as we get older - more trips in the night etc). Even in men as young as 30 signs of tumours could be found in many cases. So the bottom line is you are much more likely to die with Prostate cancer than of it.

Though that's no reason to be complacent, having PSA tests for those of us who are not as young as we once were is a must. I've really never understood the views of those who argue that PSA tests can cause more problems than they solve, or that lots of biopsies that are carried out are unneccesary. It's no fun having them or finding out you have it, but it's a lot better than assuming everything is OK until it's not and it's too late to take effective action.

And the best bit is that the treatment gets better all the time. I had to have major surgery 7 years ago, and I have the scars and side effects to show for it, today surgery can be done much less intrusively and effectively, and other options, like brachytherapy, are become more proven and available. So there's no damn excuse - if in any doubt, get tested, or just get tested anyway.

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KingMcKong 6th Mar '12 9 of 9

peterg is absolutely right

On Friday I shall be attending the funeral of a friend whose cancer was not diagnosed in time. By the time the medics got to it it had spread to the bones and elsewhere. He was otherwise in reasonably good shape for a guy in his early seventies.

The PSA thing however is vexing, as the measurement is notoriously unreliable. One consultant I spoke to told me he'd seen one case of a chap with a measurement of 2 and rampant cancer, and others in the teens with nothing wrong at all.

In addition, biopsies (which are not the most enjoyable experience - I had to have my hand held by a strong nurse with a great body) - are also a bit of a needle in a haystack. It's possible to miss whole areas and assume that there's nothing to worry about.

I guess there will be increasing focus on better detection methods in coming years

The donations are now in excess of £1,200. Well done everyone! It's not just money for a good cause, but also a tribute to the friendship and concern of those whom I've met in the world of personal financial responsibility, both on and off the internet.

Thank you all. You wouldn't believe just what a boost it is to the immune system!! :-)


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