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“My treatment has given me a new lease of life” – Rob’s prostate cancer story

19
Mar
2020

Hundreds of thousands of men with prostate cancer across the world are now able to live longer and with a better quality of life, thanks to abiraterone. Discovered and developed by The Institute of Cancer Research, the drug was the first treatment shown to be effective in patients with advanced prostate cancer. Rob Lester is one of those patients, and has been on abiraterone for around 8 years.

Posted on 19 March, 2020 by Rob Lester

Cancer can adapt and evolve to resist treatment, meaning that treatments that are effective now can eventually stop working. We are poised to take on this challenge with the launch of the world’s first drug discovery programme in our new Centre for Cancer Drug Discovery.

This revolutionary research will lead to a new generation of treatments to help many more patients live well with cancer. Rob explains why this work is crucial. 

 

I was 55 when I was diagnosed. After I got the news, I felt angry that cancer had crept up on me. I wished I had picked it up sooner and caught it a bit earlier.

I’d been a GP for about 28 years, and I thought I knew quite a lot about prostate cancer, but I didn’t know enough to know that I had it.

In fact, I had never seen anybody as young as me with prostate cancer. There’s also no history of prostate cancer in my family, so it was a big shock.   

It wasn’t looking good for me at that point. The cancer had spread to the bone and that was not a good sign – it suggested the cancer was aggressive.

I decided to retire from my job as a GP and enjoy what I thought would be the next 5 years. I told myself, ‘if I’ve only got 5 years, I might as well make them a good 5 years’. I honestly didn’t think I had much of a chance.

But then I was given the option to go on a trial called STAMPEDE, where I was put on the ICR drug abiraterone – and it was like a lottery win. It’s probably the best decision I’ve ever made.

The clinical trials have shown that abiraterone can be very effective in delaying the progress of advanced prostate cancer without men having to go through chemotherapy, and the drug took to me particularly well – I would call myself a lucky man. The treatment brought down my testosterone level very quickly, and also my PSA.

It’s now been around eight years, and I’m still here. And it’s thanks to abiraterone that I am where I am.

The coronavirus crisis temporarily put our work on hold. As we get our labs fully up-and-running again, we need your support to help more people like Rob benefit from our research, and live a good life with cancer. 

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Having a great quality of life

Abiraterone has given me hope – not only have I survived, but I’ve been able to enjoy my life and have a great quality of life.

I’ve been able to take up things that I didn’t do before: I’ve joined a walking group and started hill walking again, and now we do walking holidays. I enjoy the freedom of getting away and taking in the views – the flowers, the birds, the scenery… I do things that keep me busy. I’ve taken up the piano again and play for a dementia group every couple of weeks and lead a sing-along.

My nephew got married in San Francisco about a year after I was diagnosed. At the time I didn’t think I was going to be there. They asked me to officiate the wedding and I was able to lead the ceremony. That was something very special.

Up until the cancer, we’d very much holidayed in Europe and America, but since this treatment, we’ve thought, ‘why not?’, and my wife and I have been going to lots of new places: we’ve been to New Zealand, we’ve been to Japan, we’re going round islands we’d like to visit – Tenerife, Madeira, Majorca, the Scottish Isles…  

Benefiting from abiraterone 

The ICR’s research has proved miraculous for me. My treatment has given me a new lease of life. At the moment, I’m fit as a fiddle and feeling great. I haven’t been this fit for maybe 20 or 30 years. I’ve also kept my hair!

I take 4 tablets of abiraterone a day – and that will continue for as long as I can foresee. But if my cancer were to become resistant to my current treatment, I would have to look at other options.

The first would probably be chemotherapy. But with the ICR working to tackle cancer drug resistance, there could be several smarter and kinder options in years to come that aren’t available now… That’s why this research is so important.

I am now hoping I will survive ten years, or if I am really lucky, 15 years. And my wish is that more men like will be able to benefit from abiraterone and be given that same hope and opportunity to live their lives.

Help patients live a good life with cancer

The ICR is a research institute and a charity, relying on the support of the public and partner organisations.

Your support today will help more patients like Rob live a good life with cancer.

With your help we can discover treatments so smart and targeted that even advanced cancer can be managed long-term and effectively cured.

Please donate today – and let’s finish cancer together. 

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abiraterone prostate cancer patient advocate Let's Finish It
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