Taylors Contracting’s Gabby Marshall credits a Movember men’s health prompt from his workplace for the prostate examination that may have saved his life.
“I had high uric acid levels because I had gout and I was at the doctor getting a repeat prescription. I said to him can I get a PSA test? He asked if I’d ever had the physical prostate exam and when I said no he told me to hop up on the bed. He found that my prostate was inflamed and sent me to see a urologist.”
Fortunately Taylors pays for Southern Cross medical insurance for employees which meant Gabby could get an appointment and the necessary treatment quickly.
“The urologist took 12 biopsies, which was uncomfortable, but it established that there was cancer. The saving grace was that we had Southern Cross so there was no mucking about, and that’s paid by Taylors, which I appreciate. The operation would have cost $27,000 I believe. It’s pretty had to pull that out of your arse pocket especially at this time, the way the economics are, everybody’s feeling the pinch.”
“The urologist said it was a very mellow form of cancer, not an aggressive one,” says Gabby. “He suggested we get rid of it. He said ‘you would die with it not from it’ but that there’s no guarantee with the stuff. He said, ‘you may catch a virus and agitate it and it’ll end up going through your body’.”
Gabby and has wife had several discussions but even though the operation would have consequences for them both the couple felt that taking the urologist’s advice was the best way to go.
“It ruins your sex life of course, but my breeding programme was over anyway. That’s the frustrating part for me, and probably the Mrs too. But she told me she’d rather have me here than not at all. It feels quite daunting to know that you’ve got cancer. But it’s just a matter of listening to your urologist, they know what they’re doing.”
Gabby says that his quality of life following the operation was greatly improved due to bladder control exercises his urologist advised him to do, both before and after the operation. They have helped him recover well and adapt to fit the requirements of his work.
“I sit in the truck all day. Your bladder fills up but as soon as you stand up gravity takes over and you have to go and find somewhere to have a pee. I can hold on a certain amount. Once you learn to control it, it’s a piece of cake. Doing those clenches before I even had the op, that was a godsend. I think I bought one packet of napkins and used two of them, the first two nights at home.
“I can go to bed with a bellyful of liquid and my bladder will wake me up at 3am. It starts to ache. I’ve had no accidents, so that’s a good thing. When you’re conscious of what’s happening, you’ve just got to get up and empty the bloody thing.”
Gabby is now a staunch advocate for men getting their prostate checked and cautions that men shouldn’t think there’s only a problem if they start to have trouble peeing.
“I can only recommend it to jokers, even young fellas in their 30s. Go and get it checked. You just don’t know. They say if you have prostate cancer you end up having problems peeing, but it can still be there and not affect that. You don’t have to be old to get it, that’s for bloody real.”
Gabby has seen the toll prostate cancer can take, having watched a former colleague suffer.
“I watched a big strong man shrivel up and die. He couldn’t enjoy himself one little bit. He’d get home at weekends and spend the weekend lying on the lounge floor, because that was the most comfortable place he could be, and he was only in his early 60s.”
After his experience, Gabby says he’s open to talking to anyone who has questions about the process of getting tested and treated or the rehabilitation process that follows a prostate removal.
“Just go and get it bloody checked!”