Hans: “Yoga has helped me”

Name: Hans Joelsson
Age: 69
Family: Married with two children and six grandchildren.
What: Living with the diagnosis locally advanced prostate cancer since 2007.

“When I was 55, I was at the health centre for an unrelated issue and the doctor thought he may as well give me a full health check while I was there. A few weeks later, a letter arrived home saying that my PSA value was too high, between 10 and 11, and I didn’t even know what PSA meant.

“After a year of biopsies and new tests, the doctors found a cancer. I didn’t react too much to the news, no shock or anything. For me, surgery was the obvious choice, just take the crap out of me and I’ll get better.

“After the operation, I had a routine follow-up. The doctor then told me that the cancer had spread to the vesicular glands. It felt like a death sentence.

“I started with radiotherapy, which didn’t work. I was then given antiandrogens which the doctors said would help for three to five years. The treatment worked really well, and after two years the PSA value had dropped to below 0.1. But I suffered from side effects. I experienced fatigue, which meant I had to take a nap during the day, but worst of all was a kind of chronic inflammation in the attachments of my pectoral muscles. We then had a break in the treatment of one year, and then we started again when the value had risen. We’ve alternated in this way ever since.

“Before I got sick I was pretty physically active. I took part in the Vasaloppet ski race, did running and orienteering, but the treatment caused me pain in my chest when I ran so I was forced to find something else. I then turned to yoga, which has helped me.

“It’s now been eleven years since I started treatment and I’ve just began a new round. It’s important to understand that a cancer diagnosis does not have to be a death sentence. You won’t die tomorrow and probably not the day after either. My treatment is still working, and during this time many new drugs have been developed, so there’s hope.”

As told to: Fredrik Hedlund
First published in Swedish in Medicinsk Vetenskap No 3, 2019.

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