Soldiering on in the face of prostate cancer

Terrence 'Tezza' Izzard

Icon patient and former soldier Tezza shares his determination to never give in

The beginning of my prostate cancer journey started with a conversation with my close friend, who is also a former soldier. He came over to my house one afternoon and told me to prepare to do a slow march, which is a march used in funeral services in the military. When I asked why, he broke devastating news – he had been diagnosed with both prostate and bowel cancer, alongside a number of other health conditions.

This got me thinking about my own health and that I should also get a PSA test. “Since we’re soldiers, I will get mine checked tomorrow,” I told him. So, the following day, I visited my GP. It turned out that my PSA score was the exact same as my friend, at an extremely high 309.

I was referred to a urologist who conducted a physical exam and confirmed that I had prostate cancer. They recommended that I get an operation done as soon as possible alongside a biopsy and scans, which discovered that my cancer had metastasised to some of my skeletal frame.

Although receiving a cancer diagnosis can be shocking, because of my background of working in the defence and police force I was able to remain calm. I had the mindset that whatever was required, I would undertake the professional expertise of my medical oncologist and radiation oncologist. I was determined to overcome any obstacles that were put in front of me. This meant soldiering through chemotherapy, which I received every three weeks for four hours.

Before commencing chemotherapy, my wife Carmela and I thoroughly researched prostate cancer and its treatment using information from the Cancer Council and peer-reviewed articles. I wanted a clear understanding of what was ahead in my cancer journey. In the end I experienced multiple side effects, including nausea, dry mouth, and loss of my hair, taste, smell and appetite. I particularly found it hard dealing with my lack of energy.

I am also fortunate to have a caring health team by my side. Receiving local treatment at Icon Cancer Centre Midland allowed me and my wife to easily travel for my chemotherapy. All the staff showed me courtesy, respect and dignity throughout my treatment, which I was proud to reciprocate. The support I have received from other allied health services including MyAgedCare helped me adapt to new lifestyle modifications, such as railing and ramps within our home.

Thanks to physiotherapists and a constant companion by my side (my dog), I have restored my motivation to keep on exercising and now go on dog walks three times a day, which I am truly thankful for.

Overall, my life has changed in many aspects since my diagnosis and treatment. It has caused me to re-evaluate my decisions in life and where I choose to be. I take each day as it comes and make it the best possible journey. This has included making medication a part of my daily regime to help me ground my thoughts, become mindful of my surroundings and to avoid all areas of conflict.

My advice would be to listen to your oncologist, radiation therapist and all other allied health professionals. They all have a thorough understanding of what treatment is best for you with years of experience and knowledge behind them. We are extremely lucky to live in a country where we have access to new advancements in treatment which are continually expanding.

Another piece of advice would be to never lose your sense of humour and to have a motto to stand by each day. For example, mine is Effort Breeds Success! And Never Give In!

Lastly, seek out a local cancer support group where you can help support each other on your journeys. Every person who is living with cancer has a different experience and obstacles.

I feel privileged even though I have metastatic cancer. I am still able to exercise and enjoy life with a loving family around me at the ripe age of 85 years young. I am determined to kick on for another decade!

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