What is the prostate cancer prehab trial all about?

Patients who are physically fitter cope with, and recover from, cancer treatment better. Marjon is running a supervised exercise pilot scheme to improve the physical strength of men who are starting treatment for prostate cancer. One of the patients, Ron Wheeler, tells us more…  

prostrate prehab clinicThe pilot begins…

I’ve joined a Gang of Four! Jack, Roy, Terry and Ron. We’re a bit like the last of the Summer Wine! We’re all between our late sixties and late seventies, and we meet, wait for it… at the Marjon gym every Tuesday for six weeks.

What has brought us together? Well we’re all victims of prostate cancer and are strengthening our muscles prior to radio-therapy, which will zap the cancer cells. Our Consultant has created a pilot scheme to strengthen our ageing muscles with work-outs in the gym, and step-counters for walking.

Stronger muscles will help us resist the side effects of the treatments. Each week we are expected to increase our step counting, which means walking, by ten per cent. We also record our daily diet to ensure we are eating plenty of protein to build up our muscles.

Jack has been in the Army and has then spent a life driving for Citybus and other companies. Roy has been a joiner and worked for an engineering company. He loves walking on Dartmoor. Terry has been a butcher all his life, spending much time on his feet. He is a regular snooker player and jokes that he ups his pedometer count by running around the snooker table in between shots! Ron has been a Royal Marine, so once was very fit, but that was a long time ago.

The set up at Marjon is very impressive, with a lovely gym and other sporting facilities including a swimming pool. Their corridors are lined with pictures of sporting alumni going back to their founding days in London.

The four of us are enjoying the camaraderie of the staff there, including Sam Vaughan who oversees our progress. The Mustard Tree Macmillan Cancer Support Centre sent Helen Jordan as our Liaison Officer to keep a supportive eye on us all.

Currently we are undergoing hormone treatment (injections and a course of pills), designed to suppress our testosterone, and we must build up our muscles which will be getting weaker. One side effect is to give us hot flushes. The frequency is variable, Terry has one every other day but I seem to have four a day. I get a clammy feeling on my forehead which results in sweating: a reminder to keep drinking the water. The recommended daily intake is two litres for men, one point six for ladies.

After the pilot…

We have now completed our pilot six-week series of workouts with the splendid staff at Marjon. Today we were tested on our muscle strength gains since our first day, and all were able to report significant improvement. Jack has lost weight and puts it down to more house-work!

We’ve also been down to the Mustard Tree Centre to its welcoming atmosphere and support. They offer alternative therapies and moral support and there was a video to see, with radiographers to show us what to expect with the radiation therapy. We’re all at different stages with our hormone treatment but we’ll all have completed it in 3 months and begin the radiotherapy.

Roy may be the first to start radio therapy. This involves 4-weeks of daily weekday visits to the treatment ward. The dose of ray treatment takes about fifteen minutes to administer and then we are free to go. The side effects will make us tired, and lead to yet more trips to the toilet!

In the meantime, Terry is so confident he’s stopped running around the snooker table for his steps and is taking himself and grand-daughters to Egypt on holiday! We’ve decided to all keep in touch by meeting on a Thursday morning to not only ensure we keep hydration up by drinking decaf coffee, but also to share and encourage each other! If anyone, interested in prostate treatment, would like to join us, they will be welcome.

My brother-in-law thought; Jack, Roy, Ron and Terry, sounded like a Merseyside pop group. Perhaps, we are more like members of Dad’s Army!

To find out more about our health courses see our website or come to our Summer Open Days on 7 and 8 June 2019.

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