Jukka, a prostate cancer survivor: “The diagnosis did not cause any bigger stir in my everyday life”
In the spring of 2009, Jukka Karhula booked an appointment for a regular occupational health check-up for 60-year-olds. At the same time, he wanted to measure his PSA values that indicate the condition of the prostate.
“The PSA was slightly elevated, although below the value suggestive of cancer. I still wanted to see a urologist. After the needle biopsies had been taken, I waited for the results. I call that time period the summer of doubt,” Jukka recalls.
However, he did not allow uncertainty to interfere with his life. Everyday life rolled on both at work and at home, and his family departed for summer holidays in good spirits.
“I was thinking that this is only a suspicion until proven otherwise.”
When the suspicion then turned into a diagnosis, everyday life brought him security
The summer of doubt ended when the bad news was dropped into his mailbox.
“In August, I was diagnosed with prostate cancer and in September it was diagnosed as moderately aggressive. It was only then that I thought that this is the real deal now, and I started collecting information about the illness,” Jukka says.
His family took the news of the illness quite calmly. Everyone was confident that they would get through this together.
“None of us freaked out, and the diagnosis did not add any great confusion to my everyday life. I was working, jogging, searching for geocaches, and going to dances,” recalls Jukka whose hobbies give him great strength.
A decision was made to remove the prostate using robot-assisted surgery, as it often enables faster recovery than open surgery.
When Jukka had the surgery in December, the procedure was like a textbook example.
“Everything went smoothly and painlessly. Recovery from surgery was also very quick. I returned to work full-time already after New Year’s,” he says.
Sharing experiences brought knowledge and new friends
The surgery also brought along something new to learn. Urinary continence was rediscovered by exercising the lower abdominal muscles, but in the bedroom, potency still needs some encouragement from medication at times.
“Otherwise, the illness has not been visible in my daily life. My treatment has been successful and the cancer has stayed away. I am healthy until proven otherwise,” Jukka says happily.
An important thing in everyday life is the peer support group, which he joined shortly after the surgery. Later, he also ended up acting as an expert by experience.
“When I was diagnosed, I felt like I needed more information on my illness. The activities as a volunteer peer support person for cancer patients and the role of an expert by experience started just over a year ago have increased my knowledge and experience of living with cancer. At the same time, I have made new friends.”
“Everyday life is richer when you can share it with family and good friends, and have nice hobbies.”