Elvin had surgery to remove his prostate and was given the all-clear but the operation left him with erectile dysfunction and made him jealous and possessive.
The couple are now telling their story to urge men and women to talk openly about men’s health issues, including prostate cancer, as part of the Movember campaign.
Around 47,000 British men are diagnosed every year and 76 per cent who are treated for the condition experience erectile dysfunction.
Property officer Judith, 61, says: “Of course I was happy that Elvin was going to be OK. But people would say, ‘You’re so lucky’. They didn’t understand what was going on behind closed doors.
“Our sex life had always been good. We’ve been married 37 years so knew each other very well. We were as near as it gets to being perfect.”
But in 2016 blood tests and later a biopsy confirmed that Elvin, 61, had a cancerous tumour in his prostate.
Scans showed the cancer had not spread beyond the prostate and Elvin was given two treatment options — both of which would have a devastating effect on his sex life.
The first was a prostatectomy, an operation to remove the prostate. The second was a three-year treatment plan involving hormones and radiotherapy. Elvin opted for surgery. After a three-hour op, he and Judith were told the cancer was removed, and after two nights Elvin was sent home. Eight weeks later, he got the all-clear.
But the op left him incontinent and unable to have sex. Judith says: “Elvin was free of cancer but the first time we tried to have sex, he just couldn’t perform. It was very frightening for him.
“I wasn’t worried, I’d been expecting it. But Elvin lost all his self-confidence. Before the op, we had talked about both options and were open about sex.
“The big difference is, after the surgery Elvin had problems performing but he still fancies me — if he had gone the other route, he’d have no desire.”
For Judith and Elvin, getting through those first few months was the toughest thing their marriage had ever encountered.
Judith says: “He had severe mood swings. He accused me of being unfaithful and he worried if he didn’t know where I was. He was paranoid.
“I had to say to him, ‘I don’t know where you think all these men are coming from, I’ve never seen any of them’. I’ve told him it’s not going to happen. I’m with him, in sickness and in health.
“Elvin still had the urge, he wanted to be with me. All I could do was reassure him that the erection wasn’t important to me sexually. If it’s there, it’s a bonus. If not, we’ll get around it.”
But Elvin says: “It’s very difficult to say ‘at least I’m still alive’ when you’re raging inside. I felt angry about how my life had changed.”
Two years on, though, he started to see improvements in his condition and he can now perform, with the help of a little blue pill.
Judith says: “It takes organising. There is no spontaneity. Elvin normally has to take a Viagra. It means he can’t have a beer. He can’t eat for an hour before and it can’t be a heavy meal.
It’s not very romantic and doesn’t always work.”
The couple, who have daughters Sandra, 42, and 36-year-old Emma, want the NHS to put more resources into sexual health. Elvin says: “It should be like going to the dentist.
“It isn’t right that a man and his partner should have a lesser quality of life because he has had cancer.”
Judith adds: “We are supporting Movember, as we want men to talk openly about these issues. Please know that you are not alone.”
How to get involved
GROW: Grow a Mo like Elvin, above. Your face can inspire donations and conversations.
MOVE: Commit to walking 60km over the month. That’s 60km for the 60 men we lose every hour of every year to suicide worldwide.
HOST: Host a gathering to raise funds and get your mates together for a Mo-ment.
Sign up at movember.com.
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