Let’s take the last bit of the title first. It’s no fun being diagnosed with a lifelong or life-threatening condition at any age, but being diagnosed with an old man’s disease at 50 is right up there. The average age of a prostate cancer diagnosis is 72, so there were men in that waiting room older than my father.
Much of the advice given for men with prostate cancer is therefore aimed at men a generation older than me. While I’ll admit that most men pretend they are still capable of the things they did in their twenties, I was asking questions that people hadn’t heard before.
“When can I start running?” was the first one. I’ve been running for as long as I can remember. My early memories are of trotting along as my mother pushed my younger sister in her pram and pushchair. My mother was a fast walker but at the age of four my legs were a lot shorter, so trot I had to just to keep up.
Much later I ran in army boots with a pack on my back, every evening after work to get fit for the test to join a Territorial Army (now Army Reserve) airborne regiment. 1,200 applied to start the selection. 273 started the process, and nine of us finished. Thirty years later, by this time married for twenty-five years I entered a half-marathon, in part to raise money for the Multiple Sclerosis Society, as my wife has the condition. A few weeks later my prostate diagnosis started to come together, first as a raised PSA, until the disease was confirmed. Quite a lot in fact, but almost certainly contained within my prostate. That prostate was coming out, but in the meantime I had a race to run and I ran it just four weeks before my surgery was scheduled. Hence the question about when I could run again, and the answer was after four weeks.
So four weeks after surgery I started running again. I’d been walking for two hours a day within two weeks of the surgery and to focus my recovery I’d entered another half-marathon even before I went under the knife. This time it was for real. I built up slowly, mixed up my training between speed, strength and endurance and sixteen weeks after my dodgy prostate had been removed by a clever robot under the control of a surgeon I ran a respectable 1:48 round Bath. That PB still stands. I have run a few more halves since, mostly off the back of far less training, but I now feel I’d like it to be my lifetime PB as testament to my recovery. I’d started the training as a prostate cancer patient, but I finished the race as an ordinary bloke again. My recovery was complete.
Simon Lord now also enjoys challenges, as four years ago he cycled solo from London to Marseilles on a bike being given away for free at the roadside. He has recently qualified as a personal trainer and next month will compete in his first triathlon.