Ray’s personal story
Without any unusual symptoms to report or a family history of cancer, it was a routine check in 2017 that led to 50-year-old Ray’s prostate cancer diagnosis.
Ray had access to HSC’s cancer support service through a policy provided by his employer. So, when he began experiencing physical issues following a prostatectomy to remove the tumour, he contacted the HSC support team for confidential help and advice.
Following an initial conversation with his Case Manager, it was arranged for Ray to have a Personal Cancer Care Review with a Cancer Nurse Specialist. This enabled them to address his specific concerns and plan a way forward together.
The help Ray has received from HSC to date goes beyond supporting him to tackle the physical problems he initially raised. From logistical challenges to financial pressure, this is his story.
“The help Ray has received goes beyond supporting him to tackle the physical problems he initially raised.”
Incontinence concerns alleviated
After his surgery, Ray had originally been referred to a physiotherapist to assist with his incontinence. He had two sessions but as finances were tight, he couldn’t fund any ongoing physio and his condition subsequently worsened. He was also struggling to afford the number of incontinence pads he needed.
Ray’s Cancer Nurse Specialist provided him with some pelvic floor exercise sheets that her other prostate cancer clients had found beneficial. A month later, Ray’s incontinence has improved. He is being considered for free incontinence pads following referral for assessment at HSC’s request. Ray now also has a radar key that gives him access to locked, disabled toilets when he needs them.
“Ray’s incontinence has improved. He also has a radar key that gives him access to locked, disabled toilets when he needs them.”
The cost of living
As finances were limited because of Ray taking time away from work, the family of 4 had to be mindful of the cost and amount of food they bought. Ray asked whether his Cancer Nurse Specialist could explore whether he’d be eligible for food vouchers.
To Ray’s delight, she was able to obtain food vouchers for him via a local hospice. She also passed on the details of a food bank close by where he could pick up nutritionally balanced items without breaking the bank.
“Although he’d initially been entitled to some free transport, this was limited to 8 trips and he was forced to miss some appointments.”
A logistical setback
Ray’s treatment for prostate cancer took place in a city some 40 miles from his home. The cost of the round trip using public transport quickly added up. Although he’d initially been entitled to some free transport, this was limited to 8 trips and he was forced to miss some appointments. He also missed out on support group get-togethers in the city. Ray spoke to his Cancer Nurse Specialist about how frustrated, isolated and in-the-dark this logistical and financial challenge had left him feeling.
With his permission, HSC contacted a local hospice on Ray’s behalf. It transpired that transport to and from appointments for cancer treatment was a service they provided. He now enjoys the 80-mile round trip to the city’s hospital courtesy of the hospice. HSC also found a local support group for cancer patients within walking distance of Ray’s home. He regularly attends these sessions and has found them hugely beneficial.
“I’m so grateful to HSC for all they’ve done to get me to this point. The support groups have been so useful and I wouldn’t have been a part of them had it not been for the support team fighting my corner.” ~ Ray
Ray is now awaiting the results of a recent PSA test – a test that measures the amount of prostate specific antigen (PSA) in the blood. These results will determine whether he needs to start chemotherapy. If so, Ray’s Cancer Nurse Specialist will help him prepare for his consultation, answer any questions he may have and support him to cope with the side effects of treatment. If chemo isn’t necessary, Ray hopes to return to paid employment in the near future. His twice weekly support calls with HSC will continue as he reintegrates himself back into the work environment. Ray is extremely grateful for the support provided by his employer through HSC.