Soapbox exclusive: No big news



Hi folks.

I’m conscious that I’ve been quiet … but really when things get really intense, I don’t find I have time or energy for standing on my well-worn Soapbox, or tweeting.

Also I was a bit shocked at all the media attention that my ‘Health Scare’ piece got – all around the world. I suddenly realised how uncomfortable it feels to be getting attention for those kinds of reasons.

And I just couldn’t deal with the responses, from so many people who showed they cared, but … it’s been overwhelming, and I feel bad I still haven’t anything like got through them all. So – apologies, folks.

I do begin to feel that I owe you guys some kind of update, and I’m comforted by the thought that ‘probable good news’ spreads a lot more slowly than ‘probable bad news’ ! I was advised not to say anything more until the matter was clear, but it seems that it won’t be crystal clear for a while yet, and mainly – it’s GOOD news.

I really don’t want to burden you with every detail; basically I am still in diagnostic-land, but hopefully not for much longer. Strangely enough, my Urology specialist – Professor Mark Emberton – is in the news today in the (normally scurrilous, but not in this case):

Invasive tests for prostate cancer are failing to spot the disease: Thousands of men forced to have painful biopsies
10 January 2014

– speaking about the very procedures I’ve been going through, as do so many in his care.

Basically all the tests I’ve had have come back with good reports, and so most of the ills that were possibilities a couple of weeks ago are now ruled out. My friendly Prof, true to what he says in the newspaper story today, took me through the prostate part of it very methodically. The first exploratory MRI scans weren’t really aimed at the prostate, but at the spine, so he did manual and ultrasound explorations and said he was pretty sure that there was nothing seriously wrong, but … he wanted to see a dedicated prostate MRI. I did that over New Year, and it showed up some small possible problem areas. I then had a choice. He said I could either wait for a few months and have another similar scan, and see if anything was developing, or he could put a needle in and take samples … a biopsy. So, rather than sit worrying for months, I opted for the latter. That happened today, and though it’s not a joyride, I was unconscious for most of it, and it wasn’t as bad as I expected ! I’ll get the results next week, and then things should hopefully be much clearer. Don’t send me any more messages yet … OK ?

As I sit, only slightly bruised tonight, on my favourite sofa, I reflect how lucky I have been to be in such great hands. And I ponder on the thought that without prostates, none of us would be here. Not one. Because the prostate is the place where those wriggly little swimmers are ‘born’. Born to fight – to win the race to get to an egg first – to fertilise and make their mark on the world. And finally, I’m happy to report, for any of you out there who are worrying: it’s not as scary as you might think to get checked out if you have doubts about these areas. Medicine is advancing very fast, and the doctors are much better at explaining what is going on than they used to be.

Finally … overall, the worldwide prostate news is mostly good. I’m told that over 90 per cent of men will have some cancer cells in their prostate when they die. But only two per cent actually die because of it. And those two are the ones that didn’t catch it early enough. My advice to anyone with doubts is – don’t be shy – to go to your GP and chat about it, sooner rather than later. It CAN save your life. Well, I’m working on Queen tracks this coming week … brushing the dust off … surprising how shiny they are underneath, after a bit of polishing ! But over the weekend, I’m working ‘from home’ on a great new stereoscopic book project with the Tate Gallery. More details soon.