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The key to dealing with cancer is to be fighting fit mentally and physically; Diagnosed with prostate cancer 12 years ago, actor Jeff Diamond has just completed his treatment. He told Health Editor Madeleine Brindley why he delayed having radiotherapy for more than a decade.

Byline: Madeleine Brindley

JEFF DIAMOND has carried around an image of his foster father lying in a hospital bed with his head heavily bandaged throughout his adult life.

John Evans had just undergone radical surgery to remove his pituitary gland from his brain - the standard treatment of the time for prostate cancer.

But the operation did not save Mr Evans' life - he died from prostate cancer when Jeff was 17. S

This enduring image has been more of a constant in the actor's life over the past 12 years since Jeff was diagnosed with prostate cancer.

But despite undergoing a prostatectomy in Cardiff, Jeff put off having radiotherapy for more than a decade until just three months ago.

Now 69 and about to perform in a production co-written by his daughter Karin, Jeff said: "The undercurrent to all this was the picture I had of my foster father and the feeling that I shouldn't rush it.

"If you are diagnosed don't panic, talk about it, find out about the options - don't just go for the radical treatment."

When Jeff, a former nurse, was diagnosed with prostate cancer he was advised by his consultant that he would need to undergo radical radiotherapy.

He had just been employed, on a 12-month contract, at the National Theatre in London, and asked his radiotherapist at Barts Hospital whether he could cope if the treatment was delayed while he was rehearsing. Instead of having radiotherapy Jeff underwent regular PSA tests to monitor his health.

"I was a registered nurse for 18 years, ironically working in theatre. But although I saw, and was involved in, many lifesaving operations, I didn't want to be messed about with.

"I thought that as along as I was sensible about what I ate and did, it would be all right - I'd given up smoking a long time before I was diagnosed with cancer.

"I kept fit. I didn't drink a great deal and I switched my tea to herbal. It was a case of not stretching the boundaries too much.

"I think the key to dealing with the fact that you have cancer is to be fighting fit and to keep your body in shape mentally and physically."

Jeff's decision to continue delaying radiotherapy spawned a close relationship with his urologist Frank Chinegwundoh.

"He recognised my need to be conservative and to try and put treatment on hold," Jeff said. "I had regular PSA tests and I was very open with him. He was very open we me.

"My family was very supportive of my decision and approach but they did start urging me to do something as the years went by - they would leave little hints , like saying 'Didn't I want to see my grandchildren grow up?' "That put a seed into my mind. The last time I saw Frank, a year ago, I was thinking that it was time to do something because I was approaching 70."

Jeff's last PSA test showed that his levels were slightly raised and he started a course of hormonal treatment before having the first of a three-month course of radiotherapy.

"I felt fine, I had no symptoms and I was fit and well. I felt I was in control of it because I hadn't allowed it to get out into my system. I'd like to think that I was responsible but I know that some will think that I was irresponsible.

"I was blessed to have someone like Frank in authority who thought that I was responsible and that I approached it in a responsible way.

"People will be horrified to learn that I didn't do anything for all that time because it could have been getting worse.

"I've been on this long journey of knowing that I have prostate cancer, modifying my approach to life and making sure that I looked after my body.

"But the message that I want to get across is that people should be responsible in the first place and make sure that they have an MOT in their early 40s.

"It doesn't matter if they don't have any of the traditional signs and symptoms of prostate disease or cancer, they should see their doctor.

"When I was nursing, the average age for prostate cancer was in the 60s and 70s and it was rare for anyone in their 40s or 50s to be diagnosed but today it is more commonplace." Jeff Diamond will be starring in A Story To Call My Own, at Chapter in Cardiff from Thursday to Saturday. Tickets cost pounds 4 and pounds 6 and are available by calling 029 2030 4400 Symptoms often develop slowly and can be missed The most common symptoms of prostate cancer and a non-cancerous enlarged prostate are the same.

They are: Having to rush to the toilet to pass urine; Difficulty in passing urine; Passing urine more often than usual, especially at night; Pain on passing urine; Blood in the urine or semen.

In both prostate cancers and non-cancerous enlargement of the prostate, the symptoms are usually caused because the growth presses on the tube that carries urine.

If you have any symptoms, you should see your doctor.

Most enlargements of the prostate are not cancer and can be easily treated.

Very early prostate cancer does not usually cause any symptoms at all because any growth in the prostate is too small to have any noticeable effect on urine flow.

Cancer of the prostate often grows slowly. Symptoms may be mild and occur over many years. Sometimes the first symptoms are from cancer cells which have spread to the bones. This may cause pain in the back, hips, pelvis or other bony areas.

[source: Cancer Research UK]

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FIGHTER: Actor Jeffrey Diamond has just had treatment for prostate cancer - 12 years after he was diagnosed with it
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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Dec 7, 2009
Words:971
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