Why I have left a gift in my Will to future research

John Sutton, 71, was diagnosed with prostate cancer after taking part in a research study at The Royal Marsden. He wants to help ensure others can benefit from research studies into early diagnosis and decided to leave a gift in his Will to support future research.

Taking part in the research study

"Prostate cancer runs in my family. My father passed away from prostate cancer when I was just 25, and, in his 60s, my brother Ray was also diagnosed with it. Fortunately, it had been caught early and Ray was successfully treated.

john sutton

At this stage in 2011, it was definitely a worry for me so I decided to speak to my GP, who informed me of a research study led by Professor Ros Eeles at The Royal Marsden and The Institute of Cancer Research, London (ICR). In order to better understand the genetic markers that cause prostate cancer, they were looking for people with a family history of the disease to take part. I was delighted to have discovered this and was keen to be involved. Firstly, I had a biopsy which showed no evidence of cancer. However, because I was at greater risk, I was told that my PSA (prostate-specific antigen) levels would be monitored regularly, which I thought was fantastic.

The importance of my early diagnosis

As part of the study, I continued to be monitored and there was a gradual increase in my PSA levels. In 2015, the team decided to investigate with an MRI scan and another biopsy, which confirmed I did have prostate cancer.

I was told the cancer was not dangerous at this stage, so I decided to go on active surveillance, which meant having regular tests and scans to monitor my cancer. This continued until 2017, when my PSA levels increased again and I was advised to get treatment.

I was offered radiotherapy or surgery, and decided on the latter using the da Vinci robotic surgical system. The operation was successful which was a huge relief for me.

Just 15 months after the operation, I completed a 140 mile trek in the Himalayas, which proved to me that I had fully recovered. Since the surgery, my PSA levels have been virtually zero and continue to remain undetectable. I have been discharged from the care of The Royal Marsden and will continue to have annual PSA checks which are monitored by my GP for any signs of the cancer returning.

Why I am giving toward future research

I am unbelievably fortunate to have taken part in Professor Eeles’ study. I felt like I was in safe hands at The Royal Marsden especially as it is a Centre of Excellence attracting the brightest and best doctors, nurses and researchers. Declan Cahill, my surgeon, had such a reassuring manner when talking to me about my cancer and that was so comforting as a patient. I really have received the best possible care and treatment at this wonderful hospital, and my experience has underlined the importance of early diagnosis. It not only saved my life, but is saving many more, too.

john at the banham marsden march

That is why I decided to leave a gift in my Will to prostate cancer research. I will be forever grateful to the hospital for the way they cared for me with professionalism and understanding. This is my way of saying thank you and giving something back. I also want to help ensure that research continues to be carried out in the future and at a faster pace. Early diagnosis is so important. If the detection of my cancer had been a lot later, then my outcome would have been completely different. Leaving a gift in your Will, like me, will help many more lives in the future."

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