Former MP takes it in his stride

31 Aug, 2005 08:45 PM
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CANCER was not a word that frightened Ross Ainsworth - given the 57-year-old's family history it was something he was expecting.

As a National Party Member of Parliament, Mr Ainsworth had been having regular health checks at Parliament House that included a blood test for prostate specific antigen (PSA).

After a test last year came back on the high side of normal, Mr Ainsworth's GP in Esperance suggested some follow up blood tests due to his family history of cancers.

"We did those tests and my PSA was creeping up slowly," Mr Ainsworth said.

"I'd been having the old digital test and having no results from that so I went and had a biopsy in November last year."

That biopsy came back as indeterminate, but another biopsy in January revealed a small sample of cancer and Mr Ainsworth was diagnosed with prostate cancer.

"I wasn't surprised, given my family history; cancer was something I had more or less been expecting to happen at some point," Mr Ainsworth said.

"I went to see a specialist after the diagnosis and he went through my options.

"I didn't like the idea of radiation at all because I just wanted to get rid of the cancer.

"I didn't want to have it in my body at all and I didn't want to have it there and have to wonder if it was going to flare back up."

Mr Ainsworth decided to have surgery to remove his prostate.

Prior to surgery, Mr Ainsworth had a meeting with a continence nurse who explained the possible ramifications of having a radical prostatectomy.

"She explained the two main things which could happen - incontinence and impotence," Mr Ainsworth said.

"For a guy, both of those things you need to think about because if it's permanent, then it's permanent.

"I suppose at my age the thing that would worry me most was the thought of incontinence."

Mr Ainsworth said while the impotence was an important factor it was not the be all and end all for a man his age.

His operation was a success.

After a week in hospital, Mr Ainsworth was allowed to return home, but he was not allowed to travel far and was required to have a catheter in for two weeks.

Mr Ainsworth, who had recently moved from Esperance to York, did not consider home to be far.

But his doctors disagreed and he had to stay in Perth until he was allowed to travel the distance to York.

After the catheter was removed, Mr Ainsworth had to wear incontinence pads for about six months.

"When you haven't had that problem before it comes as a bit of a shock," Mr Ainsworth said.

"You lose a little bit of confidence when you know you've got this leakage and that can be something that takes a bit of getting over.

"All of those things generally pass and you really have to think well at least I'm still alive."

Mr Ainsworth has a PSA test every six months.

"The message I've got out of this has been simple; have the test," he said.

"If you can detect the problem early then you've got options as to what to do with it."

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