The Malta Independent 5 December 2020, Saturday

‘Everyone should go and get checked before it is too late’ - prostate cancer survivor

Giulia Magri Monday, 16 November 2020, 08:16 Last update: about 18 days ago

A year after surviving an operation to remove the tumour growing in his prostate, Jean Calí does not hesitate in telling his story as he wants to encourage more men to get checked for prostate cancer.

“I keep preaching to my friends about the importance of getting tested and how, because we found the cancer in time, I survived and am now living my life to the fullest.”

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The month of November is dedicated to raising awareness about men’s health issues, such as prostate cancer, testicular cancer and mental health. Better known as Movember, more people are discussing the importance of early cancer detection and diagnosis and how earlier detection and treatment can reduce the number of deaths.

Business entrepreneur Jean Calí, who is 68-years-old, shared his experience about being diagnosed with grade 7 prostate cancer and how despite the difficulties, he overcome them and continues to love life.

The prostate is a gland that forms part of a man’s sexual organs and is found below the bladder. When the prostate grows in size it affects the urinary function and can even affect a man’s sexual activity. Prostate cancer is more common in men over the age of 60, but a person’s risk is higher if their father, brother or son had prostate cancer.

From an early age Jean was conscious about prostate cancer since he lost his own father to it back in 1975. “Because I knew what my father went through, I began doing regular PSA (Prostate Specific Antigen) tests every six months, keeping all my results filed and up to date,” he said.

Five years prior to his prostate cancer operation in 2019, Jean also faced a very serious operation due to being diagnosed with diverticulitis. Diverticulitis is a condition which affects the digestive tract and inflames the lining of the intestine. “This was an extremely serious operation and one which took me a long time to recover from. I had lost 11kg and was on antibiotics to help regain my strength,” explained Jean.

Once he regained strength and recovered from his operation, he continued to undergo his regular PSA tests. In one instance, his test results were alarmingly high. “My test results were very high, and that is when we discovered that something was wrong.” Whilst his doctor advised him to take antibiotics as it could simply be an infection, Jean took no risks and was recommended to Dr Prasanna Sooriakumaran, a medical professional in the UK who is an expert general surgeon who specialises in prostate cancer, for more tests.

When he arrived in London, Jean had a template biopsy.

“When we received the results, I was so scared. The doctor informed me that I had Grade 7 Prostate Cancer. I just remember telling him that we needed to operate and remove it straight away; there was nothing else to be done but to remove it.”

Jean recalled how he had to wait five weeks before being operated on and how he tried to remain positive throughout the time. “It was difficult to imagine that I had this cancer. At my age, I was beginning to enjoy my family more and grandchildren, I didn’t want to die because of this cancer, so I did everything possible to remove it.”

The operation took four hours, and recovery and treatment were another experience all together. “After the operation I began recovery treatment right away, going to physiotherapy to tighten my pelvic floor and exercises to get back my strength.” A year later, Jean is full of life and happiness.

“I tell everyone to get themselves checked, I tell them ‘look at me! I caught it in time and here I am!’ I am here and I feel good.” Jean now enjoys time with his family and also gardening, a hobby which he acquired after the surgery. “It is fantastic; it makes me extremely happy and helps me to unwind.”

Jean’s message is to make sure that men take better care of themselves and that there is nothing shameful in checking their testicles and going for regular check-ups. “I have friends who now thank me for sharing my story, because they got checked and found out they too have prostate cancer but are treating it. At our age, this cancer can be fatal and that is why, if you love life, it is so important to take care of yourself.”

 

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