Tips and advice for any bladder or bowel side effects of treatment
After treatment, make sure that you have a good supply of incontinence pads to put down the front of your underpants. (Buy them from shops own brand or similar, not the expensive types) . Make sure that you have keep a pack of anti diarrhoea (cheapest is Superdrug - you only need the generic types) on you at all times. Avoid having beer or coffee unless you are at home, because the journey back from the pub or cafe might be a real challenge. Plan any journey so that you know where the toilets are en route, and for the first six months follow those simple rules....it gets better progressively. Don't be embarrassed about asking to use the loo in a pub or cafe that you might be passing buy when the need arises because when the need does arise, it is often sudden and very urgent. Don't be embarrassed to tell people why, they will be happy to oblige.
Tips and advice for any sexual side effects of treatment
I suffered from a reduced sex drive. It was obviously out of the question for a few months after brachytherapy due to the temporary radioactivity. I found that the pleasure of orgasm was still there but a little reduced and my orgasms were mainly dry. I turned 70 years old within the the last year and have been married for nearly 50 years so our sex life was certainly not in the first flush of youth so its difficult to be sure if it is a natural decline or a result of treatment. I still certainly "think" of sexual activity and appreciate the company of women. If I was a younger victim of this disease, with a younger partner, and/or more sexually active lifestyle, I would strongly suggest discussing how medication might help to raise your libido and help with the side effects. Frankly, I was just glad to hang on to my "plumbing", mainly functioning and intact, and recognise the place where we are in our relationship and be happy for all those sexually active years together!
Tips and advice for any mental and emotional side effects of treatment
It is natural to have a greater sense of anxiety, any cancer diagnosis is a worry. The fear of its return, whether your treatment has worked, the sense of one's mortality which has suddenly been brought into a sharper focus. Talking to your partner, close relatives, or close friends is important, and the follow up calls from the oncology team can be helpful and supportive. I continue to monitor for any signs of problems, and scrutinize my urine when visiting the toilet as I have had a couple of incidents of blood in my urine. I was seen very quickly by Urology and after a thorough check, was advised that heavy or vigorous exertion, lifting heavy weights etc can cause haematuria (blood in urine) and, prostate cancer patients can be more prone to urine infections. So, don't sit at home and fret, get straight to the doctors and get checked, its probably nothing to worry about.
How this treatment impacted my life the most
The first three months had the highest incidence of side effects, and gradually diminished over the second three months. I suffered from a lot of urgency, both bowel and bladder, and when the need "to go" occurred there was no ignoring it. So, be prepared...always wear incontinence pads, and keep the antid iarrhoea tablets handy. Recognise that you will need to find toilets urgently so plan your journeys accordingly. Sit on the ends of a row in the theatre or cinema and always opt for an isle seat when flying. Think carefully about that meal out and how quickly you will be home after. Beer and coffee will go through like lightning. Your sex life will be diminished, but be thankful for the excellent treatment we have in this country. I travelled to Rajasthan for a month of exploring, just three months after my treatment, using public transport, coaches and hired drivers, without incident.
If I had to do it all over again, would I choose the same treatment?
Why did I give this answer?
After diagnosis I was given a choice of treatments. I did the research, reading lots of information before choosing brachytherapy. It was minimally invasive compared to surgery, with only an overnight stay in hospital. and only follow up PSA blood tests after. External Beam Radiation can have more collateral damage to organs and takes many weeks of regular radiation treatment. Prostate removal can have significant impact on urine control and sexual function. I preferred to go for the "minimal", keeping my body and its functionality as intact as possible.