- “It was screening for prostate cancer that saved my life,” says Dr. Audley Betton.
- The 40-year medical practitioner recalls that it was in July 2006 after a friend, who is the same age as him, shared that he had been diagnosed with the disease that he decided to get tested.
- Dr. Betton says that having cancer has been a learning process for him and one of the most important lessons is to be careful “about what you put into your body and how you treat it.”
“It was screening for prostate cancer that saved my life,” says Dr. Audley Betton.
The 40-year medical practitioner recalls that it was in July 2006 after a friend, who is the same age as him, shared that he had been diagnosed with the disease that he decided to get tested.
He immediately did a Prostate-Specific Antigen (PSA) test, which he had not done for 18 months and realised that his levels had jumped significantly. The PSA is a protein produced by cells of the prostate gland and the test measures the level of PSA in a man’s blood.
The blood level of PSA is often elevated in men with prostate cancer.
“I did a biopsy a few days later and got the ominous news that I had cancer. I scheduled treatment right away and began shortly thereafter,” he tells JIS News.
As Jamaica prepares to observe World Cancer Day on February 4, Dr. Betton is imploring more men to get screened for the disease which, he says, can be successfully treated if caught early.
The prostate cancer survivor notes that he had no signs of the disease before he was diagnosed. He says that by the time the symptoms begin to show, the cancer would most likely be at an advanced stage.
He cites frequency of urination and urine retention or what is commonly called “stoppage of water” as the most common symptoms.
Dr. Betton is of the firm belief that he was afflicted with the disease so that he could help others. This he does through his medical practice, as well as voluntary work with the Jamaica Cancer Society (JCS).
“Being a medical doctor …I am leveraging the experience to assist my patients,” he points out.
Dr. Betton says that having cancer has been a learning process for him and one of the most important lessons is to be careful “about what you put into your body and how you treat it.”
“If I knew then what I know now, my process would have been much different. The reality is that I have a medical condition that must be managed. I exercise more now and eat well and that is the key,” he tells JIS News.
He notes further that “when counselling someone, who has the disease, I focus on lifestyle. I tell them that the longevity of their well-being with prostate cancer is totally dependent on lifestyle.”
“I also advise them to follow up on the illness as much as possible, because there is a level of complacency,” he adds.
“Everyone potentially has cancer cells. When there is a tumour of any sort, benign or malignant, it is cells growing faster than normal. The trigger factors are the key to slowing the process down,” noting that lifestyle changes in terms of adopting a healthy diet and exercise are important in slowing the trigger factors.
Even though he has been successfully treated, Dr. Betton describes himself as a “person living with prostate cancer,” as according to him “I am of the firm belief that once you have cancer it never goes away.”
“You may treat it and suppress it, you might die from something else but you have to convince yourself that what you do going forward is to prolong life by taking care of yourself and as such, if you have that kind of mindset, you will do a better job at it,” he contends.
Factors that increase the risk of prostate cancer include: older age, family history of cancer, race and genetics; unhealthy lifestyle, a diet high in fat, excessive intake of red meat, and lack of exercise.