Amardeep’s story – how Penny Brohn wellbeing therapies supported him through his prostate cancer journey
Amardeep considers himself to be your typical 52-year-old. He’s married with two children and works as a Sales Manager for a software company. Here he shares his experience of being diagnosed with prostate cancer, the care he received at GenesisCare and the wellbeing therapies he accessed through the charity, Penny Brohn UK.
"I’d been actively looking after myself for the last 10 years, going to the gym 3 – 4 times a week, having sessions with a personal trainer. I didn’t take it too seriously; it was more about having an outlet after a stressful day at work and making sure I have a better chance of a smooth run into later life.
I was at the gym one day, and a friend was talking about a blood test he’d had that could tell you all sorts of things about your health. Being 51 at the time, I thought I should at least get my cholesterol checked, so having private healthcare through work, I checked to see what I was eligible for.
Due to COVID restrictions at the time, I discovered I could get a free blood test through the post. When it arrived, I had a video call where they told me how to prick my finger and get the blood sample into the vial and send it off. The lady I spoke to was great and mentioned that if I wanted, I could get a more advanced test that would cover more things, so I thought, ‘why not’. A few weeks later I went to have my bloods taken and didn’t think anything of it other than it was something I’d be able to chat to my friend about at the gym.
My results were sent through by email soon after and highlighted I had a PSA level of 47. I didn’t know what that meant but I was advised I should speak to my GP, who told me the next step was to get some more tests done so we could see what we were dealing with.
Things took off quite quickly from there. After another PSA blood test, I had an MRI scan and then a biopsy which confirmed I had prostate cancer, but thankfully it hadn’t spread. Both my wife and I were flummoxed as I hadn’t really noticed any symptoms other than very minor things like my urine flow was a bit lower and I’d had aches and pains in my hips, but I run so I’d dismissed that as being exercise related.
Initially, treatment discussions were centred around having surgery, but my consultant was keen that I also spoke to an oncologist, so I understood all the treatment options available to me and knew about their clinical benefits. My case was reviewed by a Multi-Disciplinary Team (MDT) and because my cancer was considered high risk, although surgery would remove my prostate, it was still likely I’d need some radiotherapy afterwards. Considering I was young, fit and healthy it was agreed I would be better off not having surgery and having radiotherapy instead.
My treatment started in February 2022 at GenesisCare in Birmingham. All my appointments were booked in advance, and I had a driver that picked me up every day, waited for me whilst I had my treatment, and then took me home. That was incredible and gave me one less thing to worry about. As soon as I stepped into that car, I felt I was with my GenesisCare family.
As part of my treatment, I was able to access the services of Penny Brohn UK and I had a number of sessions with Caroline, the onsite Penny Brohn Wellbeing Consultant. When she explained the evidence that shows patients who look after their mental wellbeing when undergoing treatment have better outcomes, I saw it as part of the solution to making me better. I had a few counselling and relaxation sessions, each one lasting about 30 – 40 minutes. What was really great was that my access to Penny Brohn UK didn’t finish the day my radiotherapy ended. When you finish treatment, you leave these people who have literally saved your life and it can feel like an umbilical cord’s been cut, so still having the opportunity to have telephone counselling sessions was brilliant.
I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend Penny Brohn UK to others. Whilst cancer is a physical disease your brain and mind can impact your immune system which is so key to your overall health. The higher your stress levels are, the more depressed your immune system can get, so why wouldn’t you do everything to look after your physical and mental wellbeing?
Six weeks after my radiotherapy my PSA level had dropped to 1.5. I feel so lucky. If I hadn’t been talking to my friend that day at the gym, I wouldn’t be here today sharing my experience. Since my diagnosis, I’ve been encouraging all my male relatives and friends to get their PSA checked and I’ll do the same to my son when he’s old enough. If I could go back to 40-year-old Amardeep and give him one bit of advice, it would be to get his PSA checked regularly, because the earlier cancer is diagnosed the more treatment options you have.”
If you’d like to know more about our prostate cancer services and integrative cancer care click here.