Europa Uomo Chairman André Deschamps describes his prostate cancer diagnosis and treatment

I was diagnosed when I was 51 years old, and I had a prostatectomy. I consider myself lucky that since that time, I have not experienced relapse.

What was not so lucky was the treatment itself. To go back to the beginning, I was diagnosed with prostate cancer entirely by coincidence. I had an upcoming blood check, and my wife – who worked as a quality controller in a hospital lab – told me that I had better get my PSA tested. My PSA was not that high, but we monitored it. A few months later, the doctor told me that we should do something about it, and he gave me a few options.

He said that we could do a prostatectomy, or we could implant some radioactive seeds, which is brachytherapy. And he said, “We do not have a lot of experience with brachy. So my advice is, because you are young, that you get your prostate taken out.”

He did not explain to me in great detail the side effects of prostatectomy. And I was very active at the time. I had international responsibilities, I was travelling a lot, and I needed to tell my boss that I was going to miss work. I asked the doctor how long it would take before I could work again, and he said: “Oh, a month to six weeks.”

That was absolutely not the case. I was fully incontinent after treatment, and it took nearly six months before that was fully gone. So I was travelling for three months with pads and all that hustle and bustle. Also, he didn’t tell me that prostatectomy would have a very great effect on my sexual ability. And so, together with my wife, we had to adjust our intimacy.

The biggest disappointment was that my doctor did not tell me these things in the first place. I was unprepared. And that made me angry at the time and also gave me the incentive to do what I am doing now. After I retired from my job, I decided to spend time helping other men through their prostate cancer journey. I became involved with the local prostate cancer community, and I’m still the chairman of the Belgian organisation. Five years ago, I was elected as a board member of Europa Uomo and I’ve been the chairman for the last two years.

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