Johan Stam (or uncle Johan to me) is 72 years old, lives in Holten with his wife Henny and enjoys life to the fullest. In this interview he speaks about his life after prostate cancer.
“I didn’t know Movember that well, but always think it’s good when people do something to fight prostate cancer. Personally, I care more about initiatives like Alp d’HuZes, which is a very difficult cycling challenge on the Alp d’Huez, and not a cheerful event, but I understand that people think differently about this, and for some people Movember may be more appealing. Movember may just be the modern approach to this problem”.
If you look at it like this, there are many different organisations that deal with prostate cancer, although some may be more engaged with the topic than others. Do you think it makes sense to have so many different organisations, or do you think it would make more sense to have one organisation that focuses on prostate cancer? “I think it’s good to have multiple, and when you have prostate cancer, you really appreciate people’s compassion. Although the truth is that the only thing you really want, is to be healthy. You would do anything to make that happen”.
Prostate cancer runs in the family and almost all brothers and uncles have had to deal with it when they were in their fifties. “I discovered it during my yearly check-up. They take a sample of your blood and check your PSA values. I’ve told my sons to get a check-up too, because they are both in their forties, and thankfully they are healthy.”
“It was a big shock when I heard I had prostate cancer, because they called me while I was looking for a holiday destination. During that same week my wife was told that she may be suffering from colon cancer (which thankfully turned out to be good). I’m quite down to earth and speak freely and honestly about these things, and am also able to joke about it. I think it’s very important to stay positive and not feel too depressed about it”.
The surgery followed and everything was removed with a robotic arm. Then, after six months, second test followed. “When the PSA values kept on being too high, I really got scared. After the 30 irradiations that followed, the PSA values dropped again to a normal level and now I’m completely cancer free”.
Despite the good outcome, there are a few limitations. “When I need to go to the bathroom, I really need to go fast, or accidents will happen. That’s why I wear a protector for men, every day. That’s unpleasant, and sometimes things do go wrong, but you learn to live with it. It’s a slow process and my mood is good now”.
Do you think men know enough about prostate cancer? “No, I don’t think so. Many people think that toilet issues are the most important indicator for prostate cancer, but in my case, I didn’t have those issues. It really depends on the location of the cancer. In my case, it was located on the outside of the prostate. So I can advise men to get a check-up as early as possible. It affects men in their fifties more than younger men, but even men in their forties can get it. So do get a check-up early, especially when it runs in your family!”