Barry Osman, 70, from Freshwater, was diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer and enlarged lymph nodes after a routine blood test 2 years ago. He underwent hormone treatment before heading to Prague, Czech Republic for pioneering proton beam therapy, which is not available on the NHS.
The grandad of 4 is now fit and well and enjoying an active retirement.
Speaking about his diagnoses, Barry said:
“l didn’t have any real symptoms but I hadn’t had a PSA test for two years, so while I was at the doctors for something else I asked for one.”
A PSA test measures the level of prostate specific antigen in the blood, which can be an indicator of prostate cancer. The normal reading for a man in his late 60s is around 4 but Barry’s reading was 36.
“I had an MRI scan soon after the test which showed a tumour in my prostate. Thereafter I had a full body scan that showed the two left lymph nodes were enlarged but thankfully the cancer had not travelled anywhere else”.
Barry spent 3 months having hormone treatment to stop his body making testosterone, which fuels the growth of cancer cells. The treatment helped to shrink the size of his tumour.
“I asked the doctor what was next and I was told that because of the lymph node involvement the only treatment I could have was to continue with hormone therapy.
“I asked what would happen in two or four years when my body became resistant to the HT drugs that I was taking. I was told that at this point I might have to have chemotherapy but having read up on the subject I knew I didn’t want this.”
Determined to live his life to the full, Barry had started to research alternative treatments and became very interested in proton beam therapy. The technology is not yet available in the UK for prostate cancer but people can travel abroad to centres such as the Proton Therapy Center in Prague.
Proton beam therapy is a type of radiotherapy that uses a beam of protons to kill the cancerous cells. Due to its pin-point accuracy and ability to stop once it reaches the target cancerous cells, it causes less damage to surrounding tissue and can cause fewer side effects.
“I was the first patient from the Isle of Wight to go to Prague for treatment.
“I was very well informed on my first visit about the treatment I would be having by Dr Jiri Kubes and he also took time to make sure I understood that my cancer was at an advanced stage and that treatment should not be delayed. Prior to this I don’t think I had realised this”.
Barry travelled to Prague in January 2017 and underwent 21 ‘fractions’ over the course of 5 weeks. He spent over £30,000 on his treatment and accommodation, but he rationalises:
“Some people spend as much and more on a car that sits in a garage but wouldn’t even think about spending that amount on their health and well-being, I know what I think was better for me.
“Most men are told to watch and wait to see how their cancer progresses, having blood tests every six months, but if you can get it treated for a few weeks away from home, why wouldn’t you?
“It’s your quality of life that you have to think about.
“Now I’m enjoying my retirement, I like to go for a bike ride most days and I have a large garden to look after, and of course my grandchildren to play with. I feel very fortunate to have found and to have received treatment at the Proton Center in Prague.”