Brian Hueppauff is urging men to put their pride aside and get checked for prostate cancer, sharing his own journey with the disease.
After he started needing to use the toilet a lot at night at the end of 2019, Mr Hueppauff decided to see his doctor and after a check of his PSA levels, he was sent for further testing in Adelaide.
A scan and a biopsy confirmed his greatest fear – it was aggressive prostate cancer.
“That [the biopsy] came back with a positive reading of a Gleason nine – a Gleason is the rating of how aggressive the cancer is and on a scale of 0 to 10, I had a nine,’ he said.
Following that, Mr Hueppauff had another scan to make sure the cancer hadn’t spread, which thankfully it hadn’t.
Mr Hueppauff underwent a seven-hour surgery to remove his prostate, which was a success, but just six weeks after the operation, he had his PSA levels tested again and was shocked at the result
“The doctor said, ’Oh, we’re hoping it’ll be around zero or under one at least’ and it came back with 4.6,“ he said.
“He really couldn’t believe it. They took samples from around the prostate, and some of the lymph glands, everything came back fine. It was all clear.
“He said, ’we’re going to have to do another scan’, I had another scan, and the cancer had escaped from the prostate. So I went from prostate cancer, and then six weeks later I had advanced prostate cancer.“
The cancer had spread to both his hips and his spine, with a hotspot around where his prostate had been.
Mr Hueppauff was put on treatment of chemotherapy and hormone therapy in July of 2021, which thankfully worked, with his PSA reading dropping to below one just before Christmas.
With a family history of cancers in the family, the original diagnosis was not such a shock.
“I sort of half expected that it was cancer,“ he said.
“The surprise was after the operation, and then six weeks later finding out that my PSA rating had not improved.
“That was a bit of a shock, because everyone was so confident that we got it – ’It’s all good. All the pathologies came back negative’ and then bang. “
While Mr Hueppauff continues his fight, he uses his experience to help others, through the Mount Gambier Prostate Cancer Support Group, and he urged me men to be more proactive with their health.
“Blokes are renowned for not wanting to go and see the doctor, especially when it’s something to do with the privates down below,“ he said.
“I’m enjoying helping out with the Prostate Cancer Group, doing that, talking to people trying to get people to understand more about the cancer, especially the blokes.
“It’s not hard to go and get a check. It’s not the end of everything. Things are advancing all the time.
“Blokes have got to get over this attitude of ’she’ll be right mate, I’ll check it out later’. They could be a little bit more proactive with their health.“
He said anyone who is struggling with a diagnosis or just wants to share experiences is invited to join the Prostate Cancer group.
“We can’t give advice but we can tell them what we’ve been through, there are various members with different experiences of what they have been through,“ he said.
“We have a meeting every third Wednesday in the RSL at 2PM. Some of the wives of the prostate group also meet in a sperate area of the RSL and chat because Prostate cancer affects the whole family.
“We sit around and have a chat and what’s discussed there stays there.“
Despite his illness, Mr Hueppauff has a positive outlook and has returned to doing the things he enjoys.
“Initially, I just sat around on the computer or whatever,“ he said.
“I used to walk kilometres every day and I didn’t even do that, but then I really missed it.
“Now I’m getting back into it again and I’m really enjoying it but it’s also getting me fitter and healthier.
“I’ve been lucky. Hopefully, I will die with prostate cancer, not from it.“