A PROSTATE CANCER survivor who claims he was told by doctors to ‘buy a Mercedes’ instead of spending money on treatment has been cured.
Barry Hodge, from Somerset, was devastated to be told he had prostate cancer shortly after his 70th birthday. But the retired dad-of-one said he was told by specialists told him he would need to undergo external photon radiotherapy and hormone therapy.Faced with a long list of possible side effects including incontinence, bowel problems, and loss of sexual function, Barry and his family started researching alternatives.
“I found I was having to get up quite a lot in the night, but assumed it was just my age,” Barry said. “When my doctor referred me to the urologist who sent me for an MRI, I didn’t really know what to expect.
“Then the MRI results came back and it confirmed the worst - I had a tumour.” In the UK, one in eight men will get prostate cancer at some point in their lives, making it the most common male cancer. Each year around 11,000 men will die from the disease.Symptoms of the disease include frequent urination at night, interrupted urination, painful urination or ejaculation, or blood in the urine and sperm. Traditional external beam radiotherapy can also damage healthy cells.
However, experts have shown proton beam therapy works by accelerating protons until they reach half the speed of light, and then targeting them at cancer cells with pencil-point precision.
It can pin-point the exact area to target, preserving healthy tissue in front of the tumour and preventing damage to the tissue behind it. The technology is not currently available in the UK - meaning Barry had no choice but to look at treatment abroad.
“The after effects for radiotherapy and hormone therapy are really quite serious and I just thought ‘This isn’t for me’,” he said. “Thank God for the internet, because my wife and son did their research and found that proton therapy was particularly successful for this kind of cancer.
“They told me I could go to America, where the treatment would cost around £100,000, or I could to the Proton Therapy Center in Prague, where it would cost around £30,000.
“I was reluctant - I told them I had paid into the NHS all my life, so why should I pay for private? But I had to look at what my quality of life would be like afterwards.”
Barry spoke to his wife and son and they decided to find the money and fly out to Prague in January 2016.Barry claims his decision to opt for proton therapy was not welcomed by doctors.
He said: “A doctor asked me how much I was going to spend on proton therapy. "When I told him, he told me I’d be better off going out and buying myself a new Mercedes. He told me it was an absolute waste of money. In my view it’s the best thing I’ve ever done. They saved my life.”
It’s a terrible thing to be told by a doctor you have cancer.
Barry had 21 fractions - or sessions - in Prague over the course of a month with his family by his side. After four weeks his doctors told himthe tumour had disappeared.
He said: “It’s a terrible thing to be told by a doctor you have cancer. It’s a heavy weight on your shoulders. “But the way I was treated in Prague was fantastic. I can’t speak highly enough of them. “After my treatment I had a few small problems with urine control but it wore off. You’re bound to get some kind of side effect with the interference involved.
“When I got back to the UK and saw the specialists and told them I was cancer-free, I asked if I could go ahead and claim the £30,000 back from the NHS.
“I was pretty much told not to bother wasting money on the postage stamp.”
Dr Jiri Kubes, medical director of the Proton Therapy Center, said: “In the UK, proton beam therapy facilities are limited and the NHS sends only a very small number of patients overseas for treatment.
“We have experienced very high success rates in treating prostate cancer, and continue to welcome a high number of people from the UK.”