'I don't want anybody else to suffer' - prostate cancer survivorMonday, September 27, 2021
BY CANDICE HAUGHTON
Lieutenant Colonel Paul Dunn was convinced he had to do everything in his power to bring awareness to prostate cancer by encouraging men to get regular examinations. He recalled as a child seeing his grandfather suffer from the disease. And now aged 61, he had been diagnosed with what is the most common cause of cancer-related deaths among Jamaican men.
Dunn, who was diagnosed in 2015 with aggressive prostate cancer, told OBSERVER ONLINE that as a young child he didn't know his grandfather had prostate cancer. It was when he got older that he understood what was really happening.
“I grew up as a child seeing my grandfather suffering, at the time I didn't know it was prostate cancer, but now I know,” he said.
Now, having gone through surgery, three years of hormonal therapy and weeks of radiation therapy, Dunn is cancer free and wants all men who are 35 years and older to not “fear the finger.”
“Ever since the operation I have gone public, I don't hide it, it's not something that is contagious. I wouldn't want anybody else to suffer. I encourage everyone to get checked,” Dunn declared.
Adding that he is also encouraging women to persuade their loved ones to take the tests, Dunn said, “I encourage wives, nieces, daughters, sisters, it's a family illness because it affects the whole family… encourage the men in their lives to go and get checked. Because early discoveries save lives. Don't fear the finger, it's going to save lives. Get the PSA [prostate-specific antigen] test done,” he said.
According to medical professionals, every man should get their prostate examined annually for early detection, and PSA test and Digital Rectal Examination when used together is more accurate than only using one test to diagnose.
With this in mind, Dunn explained that even though he did a PSA test on the spur of the moment at his church health fair, while the PSA reading came back showing that he might have prostate cancer, the rectal exam didn't show any signs of swelling in the prostate.
“Sometimes the PSA reading is low and the prostate is already swollen, so both things work hand in hand. My PSA reading was 9.2, so I checked with my urologist and he said let us get this thing done over - the blood test that is. We did it over and it remained at 9.2. When I went to the Cancer Society I did get the Digital Rectal Examination and it didn't show anything. I had no other symptoms, no pain in the back, no nothing. I did another Digital Rectal Exam with my urologist and that had nothing, but with the reading of 9.2 he said I should get a biopsy done. That was done, and that confirmed that it was cancer within the prostate,” he stated.
After learning about his diagnosis, Dunn said it felt unreal, but he got through the ordeal with the loving care of his wife.
“It felt like it wasn't real. My wife and I are very, very close, so after I got the call to go to the Jamaica Cancer Society, she knew about it and she was involved throughout the whole process. She had to accompany me to do the biopsy. Anybody that is doing that kind of biopsy is not supposed to drive after and so when I got there, one of the first questions they asked was 'do you have someone to drive you?' and I said 'yes.' Any medical issues that we both have, we both turn up for each other,” Dunn said.