Tuesday, June 1, 2010


My God, it's been a long, long time since I updated the blog. My original intention of keeping a detailed diary leading up to and after my surgery. I did that to my own satisfaction. The second intention was to detail my recovery. Initially that was only half-hearted, however, in moving on, I failed dismally to keep posting.

In all probability anyone checking out the Blog would feel justified in concluding that I've not been doing so well. Nothing could be further from the truth - I'm absolutely flying it!

My next target is the relay in the Cork City Marathon on Monday June 7th, where I'll be running both for my Club, Eagle AC and also for C Team - Cancer Survivors, doing three legs (16.7 miles) in all. My ultimate target for 2010 is to run the Dublin City Marathon on October 25th. Target time is 3:18 or better, with the real target being the 2011 Boston Marathon M55 qualifying time of 3:45.

Summary: With respect to Prostate Cancer, I had my surgery, an open Radical Prostatectomy, on May 22nd 2008, just over two years ago. I am, to all intents and purposes, fully recovered. My PSA has been monitored regularly since and has remained at <0.02 ng/l. In other words undetectable. I have been fully continent since June/July 2008, some 6 weeks after the operation and have not worn a pad by day or night since then.

I do wear a small, cut down, pad when running, mainly to protect my running gear, prevent chafing and for peace of mind. Sometimes I just 'spot' it. Occassionally, it can be quite damp. Generally it's in between, but it's steadily improving. I reckon that there will come a day when I'll have the confidence to go without. On the other regular side effect of surgery, things are improving all the time and I've a smile on my face. That's all I'm going to say on that matter - it's for discussion with my wife and my surgeon only - period!

I've been doing a few things that seem to be improving the slight leak while running: Clearly the running, general fitness and well being helps enormously. My surgeon has never recommended kegels, so I've never done them - well I tried a (very) few times early on, but, as progress was excellent, I stopped doing them. What my surgeon recommends, to this day, is stopping and starting your stream. I do that and i'm not going to stop doing it. It worked for me.

One thing that I've started doing in the past six weeks or so is using a Foam Roller and this has strengthened my midriff/abdomen/lower back. I reckon it's having an effect, but I still have a way to go.

To conclude the health aspects, I don't think I could be doing much better. Thank God for this. Starting out on the PC rollercoaster, I had been prepared to be unable to run again, to be fully incontinent and to have full ED. None of those situations has occurred and I thank my surgeon, care and God for that.

My running is coming on leaps and bounds. It's been a slow process, but now (touch wood) it's progressing like an express train. I've been doing around the 60 mpw mark for the past 6 months. I reckon I haven't missed a day since October last and I've started getting in the prizes (M55, mind you, but 'How bad?) and my peers have started to take notice.

I'll probably go back and summarise my running recovery over the past two years in a few later posts. For the moment, I'll just outline the past two months.

I suppose I may as well start in April 2010:

April 2010
Earlier this year I started measuring the Cork City Marathon course and later volunteered to measure the inaugural Great Island 10, in Great Island, aka, Cobh (pronounced cove), Co. Cork. This race was to be held in aid of the Irish Cancer Society, with all proceeds going to the Society, so I couldn't pass it up. So it was that in early April, I found myself on Sunday morning measuring the remaining part of the Marathon and then heading off to Cobh. Tough morning, doing two courses. It took 7 hours in all, from home to home.

Race day was on Sunday April 16th and off we set over the hilly 10 mile course. Obviously I knew the course from the measuring, but I'd measured from finish back to the start ..and it's totally different when you're running, as opposed to being on the bike. Anyway i was prepared for the fast downhill sections over the first two miles, before we encountered the severe hills. Eagle clubmate Paul Cotter was my target. We had had many fine battles on the road before my PC reared it's head and even a few before the surgery. Since the surgery, the only times I'd beaten Paul was when he was 'taking it easy'. I reckoned that today was my day though. With two miles gone, I got occassional glimpses of Paul in the distance, about 250m ahead. The next two miles, from 2 to 4 were the severest section, so I bided my time.

Once we got over the second severe hill, with several more lesser ones to come, I started working and every time I caught a glimpse of Paul, the distance between us was less. Finally on a long straight section, with a steady upslope, from 6 to 7.5 miles, I had him firmly in my sights, catching up close to the top of the last major downhill section. I still held back, not letting him know I was there, knowing that he'd stride off down the hill. Sure enough that's what happened and was about 15 metres ahead at the bottom. The 8 mile mark was 300m up the road and I saw a mutual colleague there calling out times. Dreading the "C'mon John!" call, giving away my presence to Paul, I decided to move up on his shoulder before then. The call came "Well done John! Good running!" Usually that's 'like a red rag to a bull' and Paul takes off. This time I decided to boot the boot down and pressed on. Paul kept pace for the next half mile, all the while we were increasing the pace.

Finally, I heard his breathing lessen and drift back. 1.5 miles to go and a tough section. It was now a matter of getting as close to 70 as possible. I'd done 72:25 in Mallow back in February. Finally up the last slope and on to the finish in 71:06, with Paul 24 seconds behind. I finsihed as 6th M50 (there was no M55 category) but this was great: tough course, good time and my colleague and arch-rival beaten.


Richard D said...

Just read the whole blog and it was a great encouragement. I've just come out of radical prostatectomy surgery. I'm also a Masters runner based in Australia. I've just started walking and was interested to learn that the medicos advised against faster (race?) walking. I guess I wouldn't have asked the question. I was amazed that at your very first day of return to running you ran 4.5 miles - talk about getting in at the deep-end. I usually take around 2 months to reach that distancee after injury - starting at around 20 metres. It seems that there is no way the doctors will allow me to get back before the mandatory 3 months. Any idea of the risks of returning to running at this stage? And how soon can I get into serious training sessions ie speed work?
Be interesting to see if I can fully recover my times - I doubt it. But will give it my best shot.
Keep up the good work - I'll follow the post and perhaps start my own.

John Quigley said...

Hi Richard,
Thanks for the comment. Coincidence that it came on the very day that I posted for the first time in almost 2 years?

Wrt the 4.5 miles - the pace was slow. For a change, I took a bit of my own regular advice: "Make haste slowly!". I found the walking phase a slow buildup. Your fitness will stand to you in a big, big way though, in many areas, apart from getting back running. My surgeon said to resume running "when you feel up to it. You'll know when you're ready" However my G.P. was adamant that I shouldn't do any running until 3 months were up, (He wasn't happy that I was walking at 15 min miling 2 months after surgery) but I stayed off running to appease my OH - after all she was looking after me.

The main risks are of haemmoraging, before you have healed fully. As my surgeon said "you can't speed up healing, but you sure can delay it!" The other thing I found was that I leaked more when running - I started off running without a pad. Bad idea! I not wear a pad cut in two - it's like a womans sanitary pad but cut half.

Speed work: I'd recommend waiting until you've rebuilt your strength somewhat. I asked someone who'd undergone a different surgery several years ago: "How long did it take you to recover?" The response was "Two years". I didn't do much, if any, speedwork for about three months after resuming, so 6 months in all. That was very controlled. I took the attitude that I was inside a very, very fragile membrane and didn't want to risk giving myself a major injury. I know several RP survivors - none athletes - who've since had hernias.

I'm not going to recover my times now - I'm 4 years older than when this crap started, and that 4 years is far more significant in your mid 50's than, say mid 30's. Nevertheless it great to be up with my peers again (well some of them anyway). In the past 10 days, I've won an M55 category in a race with 408 runners and 2nd M55 in another with 521 runners. Its taken 2 years though.

Glad you found the blog positive. That's what it was intended to do. There are a lot of us PC runners around - several here in Cork - and I reckon if anyone is going to have a positive attitude about something like this it's an athlete. If we weren't positive, we wouldn't be competing.

If you're ever up this way in June (whatever year) you might consider doing a leg of the Cork city Marathon Relay with C Team - Cancer Survivors http://www.eagleac.net/content/view/206/100/

Marky Mark said...

So glad to hear-I will try to model you! I'm also two out of three with already a lot of progress on #3, so I can't complain only two and a half months since March 18th!

John Quigley said...

Hi Mark,
Great to hear you're doing well.

Like I said earlier, our fitness, general well being and positive attitudes make a hell of a difference.

Jim from New York said...

I have been reading your blog as I have been going through my own prostate cancer episode. I had the "robotic" version of the radical prostatectomy. I felt ready to run again after only 10 days, but waited till day 15. Mostly the running has been fine, though my first race is coming up next Sunday, a 5 miler. I am a bit nervous. I have been running with a pad. My long run was about 13 miles, and the thin pad was soaked and leaking the last 30 minutes. I have also had a few runs where the pad showed a small amount of blood. Not consistent, and none the first few weeks. Not sure what that is about. If it continues I guess I will tell the doc, but I am afraid he will just say "stop running...". Not what I want to here. Glad to hear that you have made such good progress. I am coming up on my 3 month mark, and I just found out I will be a grandfather next year. I'll be 60 then.
Thanks for the story.

Jan Puzio said...

I have followed your experiences since I contracted prostate cancer about a year ago.Being a keen regular runner(now aged 59)I was especially interested in your outcome. After the usual bloods, biopsies, MRI I decided for laprascopic prostatectomy, which I had at a BUPA hospital in Bristol on 10.11.2009. Like you I was s*** scared. However reading your blog up to and after surgery did give lots of confidence and inspiration and I thank you so very much for that.
My recovery has also been great.Walked regularly for the 1st 2 weeks with the bag then jogged (no cycling for 3 months) gradually increasing distance, I then took of to Florida 3 weeks after surgery for a holiday on my own, to give my family a rest! and ran a slow 1/2 marathon 23 days post op.
I am now running regularly and competing when work allows. New Forest marathon looms in September, so looking forward to that. Continence good except for the odd dribble...so whats new.Running.. very slight leakage on occasions. Found it worse when cycling then running straight afterwards..anyway Im not concerned. The ED has not improved even with cialis..ah well something to look forward to when it improves.
John many many thanks for your time doing the blog,my thoughts and prayers are with you and wish you all the best with your health and running and as the hash house harriers say..ON..ON...ON.