Cancer survivor fights for men’s health

Darren Robertson/ Supplied

Darren Robertson has devoted his life to fighting for men’s health after hearing that he has stage 1 prostate cancer.

– “I never dreamed that I would be diagnosed with prostate cancer at the young age of 40, and I never expected it to have been such a positive experience.”

These are the words of Cape Town financial planner and Mo Bro Darren Robertson who has signed up to join the fight for men’s health, after hearing less than two weeks ago that he has stage 1 prostate cancer.

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in South African men, with more than 4000 men diagnosed annually. When detected early, prostate cancer survival rates are better than 98%. Find it late, and those survival rates drop below 26%.

“There is a lack of awareness and general knowledge about prostate cancer. Know the facts and take action early,” says Garron Gsell, chief executive and founder of the Men’s Foundation, which grows and grooms the Movember campaign in South Africa under license from the International Movember Foundation.

“It is obviously still a shock,” Darren says. “But this journey so far has been overwhelmingly positive.”

Darren decided to go for a full health check because he was keen to boost his Vitality points before the end of the year, and his GP suggested a full blood test including measuring his PSA (prostate-specific antigen) levels “just as a precaution”.

When the results came back, Darren’s PSA levels were higher than they should be, so he was referred to a local urologist.

“It is amazing how calm and supported I felt through the whole process,” he says. “Even the dreaded digital exam wasn’t as bad as everyone makes out – it was so quick and painless”.

The urologist scheduled an MRI, and Darren’s wife Loren got busy on Google, looking at all the possible scenarios.

“We have an eight-month-old baby, so one of the things we discussed was the possibility of infertility after treatment,” Darren says. “Coincidentally, Loren also had an appointment with her gynae for a checkup and the advice we got was to ‘freeze some guys!’ so that is what we are doing.

“We don’t want to be pressurised into making a decision about whether to have another child, so the decision to freeze some sperm makes sense. We can make plans as a couple when we are ready to – just like we would have if I had not had this diagnosis.

The MRI confirmed that Darren has a 10mm Grade 4 lesion on his prostate (grade 1 is the least serious, Grade 5 is the most), and a biopsy confirmed Stage 1 prostate cancer. He is scheduled to have the prostate removed in mid-January 2019.

“Of course it is scary,” he says. “But it is important to say that this has NOT been a bad experience. The doctors and my family and friends have been so supportive, and I do not have any fears about what is happening. My natural inclination is to use attack as the best form of defence, but in this case, I am giving this journey the respect it deserves. Now is not the time to be arrogant!”

Darren lost his father to an aggressive brain tumour a year ago. That, and his own diagnosis have made him determined to tell everyone he can to “listen to your body!”

As a financial planner, Darren is used to giving advice, and he now has something extra to say to all of his clients.
“Get checkups, if something doesn’t feel right, get it checked. Take it from me – an early cancer diagnosis is immeasurably better than leaving it too late.”

Darren has signed up to raise funds and awareness for Movember. To support his fundraising goal and make a difference in men’s health, go to https://za.movember.com/mospace/13905759. Movember is the leading global men’s health charity, funding over 1,200 projects in 21 countries worldwide – focusing on prostate cancer, testicular cancer, mental health and suicide prevention. Sign up at www.movember.com or download the Movember app on your mobile device. Follow Movember on social media: @MovemberRSA on Twitter or facebook/MovemberSouthAfrica.

Source: Press release by Magna Carta.

Image source: Supplied