One simple decision can change someone’s life forever. Donald Clements, a 68-year-old British man living in the Algarve, knows this better than almost anyone.
It was around two years ago that he decided to undergo a prostate cancer test while visiting Loulé’s Mar Shopping Algarve with his wife Jane Robertson, known for her work with the Algarve Archaeological Association (AAA).
Donald, a former motorcycle mechanic from Hammersmith (west London) who now lives in Goldra de Cima, Santa Bárbara de Nexe, knew about the Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride initiative that the shopping centre had become a part of that year, under the name ‘Prevent it Like a Gentleman’.
As free prostate cancer screenings were being held, he decided to undergo one. After all, all it took was a simple blood test. However, the test results that came back were worrying.
Three additional tests were carried out in November 2018 before he was put on antibiotics. At first, they thought it may have been nothing more than a simple infection, but soon after Donald was asked to undergo a biopsy.
“They took samples and I must say it wasn’t pleasant at all,” Donald told Barlavento newspaper.
The results came back on January 18. Shortly after, he was advised to undergo a PET/CT PSMA – a test that helps determine where the cancerous cells are located and thus decide which treatment will be most effective. The exam was scheduled for January 30.
“I happened to be lucky that I was living in Portugal, because in the UK there aren’t many clinics that carry out this kind of exam,” he said.
“They injected me with chemicals which helped them see if the cancer had spread to the bones, which was a huge concern. Luckily it hadn’t, and we were very relieved. At the time that this all started, I never thought we would have reached this point. Something that should have been the size of a nut was the size of an orange,” he told Barlavento.
The surgery to remove his prostate was scheduled for March 15 at HPA’s Gambelas Hospital.
“I arrived early and was in a rush to get it done. All I remember is walking up and it was done. I was so stressed that I developed herpes zoster at the same time,” Donald said.
Thankfully, the surgery went well and Donald is here to tell the story. He continues undergoing frequent blood tests to ensure he remains healthy.
Donald hopes his story will show other men just how important it is to stay on top of their health.
“I would like to see people take this seriously. Doing the test is easy, especially if you’re over 50. I think motorbikes are a good way of appealing to the male demographic. And, in all honesty, there is no reason to ignore this test,” he said.
Meanwhile, Mar Shopping’s general manager Herman Gewert said that helping save lives like Donald’s is exactly why the shopping centre carries out the screenings.
“In our last edition, around 300 people did the test. Knowing that this initiative led to the early detection of a disease such as prostate cancer is what makes us believe that it has real and positive results which can change someone’s life,” he said.
“One of our greatest goals as members of our community is to contribute to the health and wellbeing of those who surround us and visit us. This initiative helps prevent and detect prostate cancer cases which could otherwise go undetected without symptoms for even longer,” Gewert explained.
As he pointed out, prostate cancer is one of the main cancers affecting men all over the world and all it takes is a quick blood test to detect any abnormal levels. By Monday (September 21), 69 men of many ages had already done the test. The cancer screening initiative runs until Sunday (September 27).
Skin cancer and COPD screenings
The Algarve’s Oncology Association will be carrying out free skin cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) screenings at Mar Shopping Algarve on Tuesday, September 29 between 9.30am and 1pm and 3pm and 9pm.
The screenings, which do not need to be booked in advance, will be held inside a mobile health unit and can be carried out by anyone, although the target group includes smokers, firefighters, workers at high-risk areas such as cement and cork factories as well as people who are regularly exposed to the sun on a daily basis.
Original article written by Bruno Filipe Pires for Barlavento newspaper.
Photo: BRUNO FILIPE PIRES/OPEN MEDIA GROUP