Battling prostate cancer

By NEELIMA CHOAHAN

FOR the past five years, Tweed Heads resident Max Banas has been living under the shadow of death.

The 63-year-old, who was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2002 while living in Melbourne, said he had no inkling he was seriously ill until his wife, Carole, acted on a hunch and asked the doctor to conduct a test.

"I was going for a random health check-up and unbeknown to me, my wife Carole rang the doctor and asked him to run a test," Mr Banas said.

"I felt okay."

But unfortunately he was not.

Mr Banas said he still remembers the day his world changed forever.

"I was lying in bed on a Sunday morning," he said.

"Carole said, 'I've got something to tell you. You've got cancer'," she told me.

"All thoughts go through your mind, 'When did I get it, how bad is it'.

"I didn't know what to do."

A series of tests, including a biopsy, further confirmed the bad news he had prostate cancer.

"In terms of seriousness, my cancer was four out of six," he said.

"It is a very aggressive form of cancer."

It was also inoperable.

A seven-week bout of radiation halted the stride of the disease for a while, but the reprieve lasted for only two years. Now on a dose of hormone tablets, Mr Banas said the treatment itself had caused him a lot of health problems, including a heart attack at the beginning of this year. "I feel frustrated," he said.

"I feel something has been taken from me.

"I am not the same person I used to be."

However, Mr Banas said what he found hardest was the lack of support and information available to prostate-cancer patients.

"After the (initial) biopsy I went to the toilet and found it was full of blood," he said.

"I was shocked, no-one had warned me."

Though the Tweed already has a support group for prostate-cancer patients, Mr Banas said he wanted to start another group for prostate cancer patients and their spouses. "There is a lack of communication, people don't want to talk about the disease," he said.

Soon after being diagnosed, Mr Banas and his wife of 40 years moved to the Tweed to be near to his daughter and grandchildren.

Mr Banas said he did not want to know how long he had got to live.

"I want to live life for the moment," he said.

"I would like to know Carole will be alright, that's my biggest worry.

"It will be a blow to her when I am gone."

n.For information about the new Prostate Cancer Support group contact Max or Carole Banas on 07-5536-1308.



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