At the very moment the Sky City Convention Centre caught fire, I was on air at Newstalk ZB telling the world I had prostate cancer. 1.13pm. October 22. 2019.

The reason I went public will my condition was because other than a negative blood test I felt in rude good health. I felt it was a good warning that tests work.

I tested and decided on a radical prostatectomy. I don't know why it's called a radical procedure. It is what it is. A mastectomy is radical but they don't go on about it. Maybe it's just a boy thing.

Anyway.

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I had my prostatectomy on November the 20th. It wasn't nearly as bad as I thought it might be. However, the catheter I had to wear after the reconstruction of my urethra was every bit as bad as I thought it would be. But nobody said this thing was going to be a walk in the park.

Andrew Dickens says patients should make the call on whether they are able to get tested. Photo / NZ Herald.
Andrew Dickens says patients should make the call on whether they are able to get tested. Photo / NZ Herald.

Last Thursday. November 28. Eight days on. Was a great day.

I went to my specialist and he took the bastard pipe out, pronounced me fit for public company and then he told me what they found.

It was a small tumour that took up about 5 per cent of the gland. It was mildly aggressive. Grade 2. 7 on the Gleason scale. However it had done something weird in that it was slightly poking out of the prostate. That's what these things normally do once they've got big enough and then it's off to colonise the rest of your body and screw you up. So it was a small but ambitious little bugger of a cancer.

The good news is that it didn't get out. The margin, or the area around the prostate, is clear.

The next step is to have a blood test in January to see what my PSA levels are like. If they're zero I'm all done. If they're not...well we'll cross that bridge when we get to it.

So all my team think it means I did the right thing. If I'd waited to see I could have been a bit rooted.

So this morning I'm sitting here writing to you. I appear to be pretty continent which is a relief. I'm at work. Life seems to be back to normal already. Bizarre.

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It's the sort of thing that came up again this week with the tragic case of the 35 year old Wanaka Mum who went to her doctor with a lump on her breast. She was sent home with the message, "you're too healthy for cancer". A second opinion a month later decided to test and the lump is grade 4 and she is in the fight of her life. Raising money for alternative treatment in Mexico.

Hello. IF IN DOUBT, TEST! NOBODY IS TOO HEALTHY FOR CANCER!

So a few points. Since I first went public I've had many people contact me and say thanks for reminding them to test. Five men, or their women, have now contacted me to say that they tested after my prompting and more testing has to be done. You're welcome. That's why I broke my privacy.

When I first railed on about the Wanaka case I got a lot of people complaining that the power to test still rests with your GP and I was told of many cases of GPs refusing to refer patients to testing.

To that I say, it's your body not your doctor's. If you want it, get it done. Get a second opinion.

Cancer already holds too many of the cards in the game of life. It doesn't need your doctor, even if well-meaning, slipping it an ace under the table.