Laparoscopic radical prostatectomy testimonial – Raymond Ledbrooke

Raymond Ledbrooke was diagnosed with prostate cancer and had a laparoscopic radical prostatectomy in August 2009. Mr Ledbooke describes his experience of prostate cancer, surgery and the support he received in order to regain his continence. Birmingham Prostate Clinic works closely with physiotherapists at the BMI Priory Hospital in order to provide post-operative support to patients.

“I was having lunch with my wife when I felt a terrible urge to go to the toilet. There was blood in my urine and the same thing happened a month later. I went to my local hospital and had a prostate biopsy.

“The first result came through clear, then over time I had another three biopsies and there were concerns about one of them. It was driving me mad – I went back to my GP and explained that I just wanted to know one way or another whether I had prostate cancer. He recommended that I saw Mr Doherty at Birmingham Prostate Clinic.

“Within a period of 12 months, my PSA had risen from 9.7 to 12.7 and it was clear that I needed another biopsy. It showed there was cancer in six of the 12 samples and for me, the only option was surgery.

“Looking back, it shows how there is little warning of prostate cancer. I was fit as a fiddle – it didn’t make me ill. I did have urgency and a little blood in my urine, but only on two occasions.

“The surgery itself was not too bad and I wasn’t in any pain or real discomfort afterwards. The worst thing was the urethral catheter which I wore for two weeks after surgery. It was really difficult at night because you can’t move and must stay in the same position.

“When the catheter was removed, I was not prepared for how much leakage there would be and the size of the pads required. I woke up on the first night after having the catheter removed to find the bed sheets completely soaked. I was doing my pelvic floor exercises as I had been told but didn’t seem to be improving. I had an appointment with Mr Doherty and he referred me to a physiotherapist at the Priory Hospital called Pia Brewer.

“She explained how your prostate acts as a valve which helps urinary control and how you need to improve your muscles strength after it has been removed. Pia explained exactly how to do pelvic floor exercises, which was really important. I had been doing pelvic floor exercises but I didn’t realise that I’d been doing them incorrectly.

“Using a probe connected to a computer screen, Pia was able to show me exactly how my muscles were working in a diagram on the screen, so you know when you are doing your exercises correctly and when you need to work harder.

“You do have to be determined and committed. I do ten sets of exercises six times a day. The results have been incredible – I’ve gone from feeling terrible because it seemed things would never get better to 75 per cent recovery within 16 weeks.

“When I drive from my home near Warwick to my mother’s house in Devon, I don’t need to stop for the toilet and am completely dry when I arrive. I still wear pads when I go out and there can be a little leaking when I sneeze, but I’m completely confident that I’ll get to 100 per cent recovery.

“I’m so grateful to Mr Doherty and to Pia for all the support and help she has given me. I couldn’t have managed without her. When you are diagnosed with prostate cancer, the main focus is on treating the cancer. But for men like me who have problems with incontinence after surgery, it is important to have specialist help and support.

“It does get better and you will recover, providing you have specialist help and support and are prepared to work hard on your pelvic floor exercises.

“I had an appointment with Mr Doherty just before Christmas 2009. My blood tests showed my PSA level was 0.01 – the lowest possible reading. It was the best Christmas present I could have wished for.”