Michael Jones has always been a ‘‘she’ll be right’’ kind of bloke, up for a laugh and a drink with his mates.
After several years attending the Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia Biggest Ever Blokes’ Lunch in Echuca, the Kyabram dairy farmer was looking forward to the 2016 event, never expecting it would be a life-changing one.
After hearing from numerous speakers over many years, Mr Jones recalls hearing from a doctor discussing a PSA test.
In February last year, Mr Jones was visiting Dr Michael McQueen-Thomson at Kyabram Regional Clinic for a general check-up, and asked for the test.
‘‘A few days later, I got the phone call that I needed to go back and see them,’’ he said.
‘‘I was thinking my bloody cholesterol was too high or something — but then he started talking about my PSA being over four.
‘‘I didn’t think four sounded too bad, but anything over zero is no good.’’
The Prostate Specific Antigen test measures the level of PSA — a protein made in the prostate gland — in the blood.
Although the test is not specifically for cancer, a raised level in the blood means something is happening in the prostate.
In March, Mr Jones and his wife Judy visited Shepparton urologist Dr Peter Mortensen before undertaking a biopsy and scans at Shepparton Private Hospital in April.
It was at this time Mr Jones received his diagnosis of prostate cancer at age 51.
In May, he underwent a PET scan which accelerated his diagnosis to metastatic prostate cancer, meaning the cancer had spread to other parts of his body.
Mr Jones said he was ‘‘numb’’ when they heard the diagnosis.
‘‘Luckily I had Judy because most of the time I was sitting there hearing ‘blah, blah, blah’ because I was in shock — but Jude was taking everything down because there is that many appointments going in different directions,’’ he said.
‘‘I couldn’t have done it without Judy.’’
On June 1, Mr Jones began hormone therapy, having hormone implants to reduce testosterone in his body.
‘‘The idea is that you starve the cancer of testosterone and that worked really well,’’ Mrs Jones said.
On June 22 he began chemotherapy and completed his last round on October 16 at Shepparton Private Hospital.
Yet one of the biggest challenges for Mr Jones came on October 31 when they made the decision to sell their cows.
‘‘That was an extremely hard day,’’ Mr Jones said.
‘‘I’ve been involved since I was a kid and then the breeding of these cows for all that time — and then you’ve gotta watch them get loaded up on a truck.’’
The Joneses kept their young stock and still have a few beef calves and some calves on agistment from friends and family, which keeps Mr Jones busy without adding too much stress.
He is now on hormone implants indefinitely, until the cancer stops responding to this form of therapy.
Mr Jones continues to encourage everyone to get a PSA test.
‘‘You can just do a normal blood test and it’s as simple as that,’’ he said.
‘‘If hadn’t of had mine done, I don’t know what would have happened.’’
■Michael Jones will be sharing his story at the upcoming Biggest Ever Blokes’ Lunch in Echuca on Friday, October 5.