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Science Talk – “I Think The Cancer Is Over Now” – Gerry’s Story

Image: (left to right) Gerry and Jenny Carter on their wedding day in 1971 and on their wedding anniversary in 2021. Credit: Gerry Carter.

I met my wife, Jenny, at the Court School of Dancing in Reigate, Surrey, in May 1968. All the guys lined up on one side of the room and all the girls on the other.

If you had the courage, you went to ask someone to dance, and I’m very happy to say that I had the courage that day.

Jenny and I celebrated our golden wedding anniversary together last year, but 22 years ago I was told I might not be there to see it.

I was diagnosed with prostate cancer in October 2000, when I was 53 years old, and I did not expect it at all.

I had gone to the doctor because I had terrible pain when urinating, and they told me I had an infection and they gave me antibiotics. The doctor then told me he would refer me to a specialist, which I told him not to worry about – obviously there was no need now that I had antibiotics – but he explained that UTIs were quite rare in men.

My consultant never mentioned cancer

I was referred to the hospital and went through various tests, but I had no idea what they were looking for. Finally, I had a biopsy on my prostate. The result was inconclusive, so they sent him to a nearby university.

Throughout the tests, my consultant had never mentioned cancer.

So when the university reanalyzed my biopsy results and a substitute consultant said, “I can confirm that you have cancer,” I could have fallen through the floor.

I was told that I had a life expectancy of 10 years.

At that time, I said to myself: “I have to do something, otherwise I will not reach 63”. Or I thought I could do it, but I’d be really sick.

The consultant said they would like me to take drastic action, which meant either surgery or radiation, but we had some time to play with it, because the cancer was “moderately aggressive”, so I should think about what I wanted to do and come back in a month.

I looked at both options and discussed them with my wife and three children. Finally, I chose surgery. There were quite a few risks involved with the procedure, but it seemed like it would have a better chance of completely removing the cancer, which I wanted.

Gerry and Jenny with their children at the wedding of their daughter, Christine.  From left to right: Jenny, their son Steven, their daughter Christine, Gerry, their daughter Angela

Image: Gerry and Jenny with their children at their youngest daughter’s wedding. From left to right: Jenny, Steven, Christine, Gerry, Angela. Credit: Gerry Carter.

I underwent the operation in April 2001, then I had three months off to recover, before returning to work.

“I think the cancer is over”

After recovering. I was able to go back to my old routine quite easily, although I think my job probably allowed me to relax a bit.

I had PSA tests fairly regularly for a while, and now I have them once a year. On my last test, my reading was 0.1.

I think the cancer is over now. After 20 years he hasn’t returned, so I’m 99% sure they caught it all.

Jenny and I went through the challenges of my cancer together and survived as a marriage.

Last year was our golden wedding anniversary – 50 years of marriage sounds like something today. We threw a little party at our local pub to celebrate, then in the fall we cruised through the Mediterranean.

It was really special. The weather was nice and the food was delicious. We got a suite with a balcony, not just a room, as it was a special time, and we decided we would take advantage of it.

Jenny and I have a family of two daughters and a son, and now we have two grandsons. Thanks to cancer research, I’m still here to watch them grow.

I encourage everyone to be aware of the signs and symptoms of prostate cancer, and if you have any concerns please do not hesitate to contact your GP so that you can have any tests, such as the PSA test, that might be needed. We urgently need to see a screening program for the early detection of cancer, because the earlier the cancer is detected, the better.

We are the pioneers of all new genetic approaches with the aim of developing a test to select men at high risk of prostate cancer and ensure their early diagnosis.

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