At the last meeting at the golf club, I went over and said hello to a couple that I had seen at the meetings and met Ray and Sue Bowman. Sue said that Ray had quite a tale to tell, and that they would like to share it. So, on a sunny afternoon in May, I went along to their lovely home in Rainham for a chat. Ray is 85 years old, and he has been married to Sue for 47 years, they have 2 children. Ray was employed for 25 years with Trinity House Lighthouse, and then went to work for the Prison Service for his last 8 years until retirement.
I asked Ray what his symptoms in the beginning were, and this is what Ray and Sue told me. In the beginning it was just a urine infection, he had a PSA test and given medication at Medway Maritime Hospital, he also went to see Mr Mufti, urological surgeon at the Alexandra Hospital, privately. On 24th December Xmas Eve 2008, Ray had 8 hours of radical surgery by Mr Mufti, as his prostate was fused to his rectum. Six days later Ray was sent home in time for the New Year. One week later he went back to MMH to have catheter removed, but by this time the surgery had left him completely incontinent, Sue said this was their worst time as Ray was all right sitting down but as soon as soon as he stood up, he would pee. From “1st April until May 15th, 2009, Ray had radiotherapy, and although there was an improvement, on 15th May he had a heart attack and spent 5 days in MMH again.
On 25th June due to a stricture in his urinary circuit he could not pass water, so Ray had more surgery at MMH, when he should have been at St Thomas Hospital in London having the stent for the heart issue. 9th of July and it was time for heart surgery when a stent was fitted (a percutaneous coronary intervention) balloon angioplasty. Then there was a bit of a rest until December 2009 when there was more stricture surgery, and on 16th August a Urinary Sphincter was fitted which was activated on 27th October 2010. PSA after the surgery and radiotherapy was 0.1 and it was monitored until it reached 15.6 in February 2018 when a bone scan revealed cancer in his lower back and after each 3 monthly LHRH (Luteinising Hormone Releasing Hormone a Zolodex implant of 10.8mg) PSA was 0.4. and on 1st February 2022 it was 0.02.
I asked Ray about the artificial urinary sphincter that Mr Jeremy Ockrin fitted for him in University College Hospital in London August 2010, and he told me this. “It was a new thing on trial, 250 people were fitted with them per year with 200 of them done at UCL The patient has a button and when pushed the bladder empties until it switches itself off after 90 seconds”. I have not seen a doctor much like a lot of other people in the last 2 years, but today a letter came with an appointment. My PSA after 4 years hormone treatment is now 0.02 and I hope it will continue.
I asked Sue if all Ray’s treatment, on this long pathway they had been through together, had kept them at home a lot. Sue told me “It has a bit and with Covid as well, we are home- birds, but we are going to a big garden show soon which we try to go to every year. Both Ray’s parents died of heart issues so it’s a family thing. We have been in the group ever since it started, and it is nice to see that the group and the members that come along are all so positive”. I would say that as you can see in Ray and Sues case it has been a long journey, they have faced together and they have had to be strong. Ray and Sue would like to thank all the support they have had from staff at Medway Maritime Hospital and Macmillan Cancer support nurses.