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Jim’s Story

Jim Monro – Founder Member Buddy

‘Teribusʼ the Hawick war cry. I popped into the world with my twin sister on 29 August 1947 in Hawick Cottage Hospital. My parents were older than most and I already had an older sister.

The first 7 years of my life were spent in a tiny cottage my father had owned since before the war. We had no electricity and no gas or telephone but we had a bathroom! Hard for my mother but for my twin and I it was an adventure playground and laid the groundwork for my love of the outdoors and adventure pastimes. My father, a graduate engineer, changed his profession after the war to primary teaching.

At 7 we moved to Gretna and I encountered electric lights and other wonders that only other people seemed to have. My childhood and adolescence was very happy and I was given a lot of freedom to make my own decisions and choose my own course through school and beyond.

I attended Annan Academy where I first met my soul mate and companion in many adventures – Deirdre. Being fleet of foot and nifty with an oval ball I had some minor sporting successes and even picked up the odd science prize or two.

I left school and home after sixth year and spent the summer as a trainee with John Brown shipbuilders in Clydebank before going to Glasgow university to study naval architecture. Towards the end of my first year of study John Brown informed me that they would be discontinuing shipbuilding once present contracts were completed and that perhaps I should rethink my choice of career. That put the tin lid on my studies which were not going too well due to too many long weekends with the mountaineering club.

After a spell with Cowans Sheldon in Carlisle during which I renewed my schoolboy romance with Deirdre I moved to Dundee to start my studies again in the form of a sandwich course leading to a degree in engineering. I was surprised to win Dundee Institute of Engineersʼ prize for the top graduate in my year. During this time Deirdre and I married and our son David, a fine free spirit and wonderful human being, was born. Lifestyle was more important to us than making money or building careers and I decided to train as a teacher, Deirdre having already graduated and trained to teach.

My first 7 years teaching were spent on the Moray Firth where I built our first boat, a small sailing cruiser, in the back garden and wonderful daughter Helen was born. Outdoor activities were part of the job as well as teaching maths, physics , engineering science and seamanship and navigation. We then moved back to Annan for family reasons and I settled on teaching maths. The first signs of a prostate problem began over 20 years ago when a slightly enlarged prostate started an annual monitoring of my psa level. A spike about 18 months ago leading to an mri scan followed by a targeted biopsy revealed an early stage prostate cancer.

For some time previously I had acquainted myself with the treatments and outcomes for prostate cancer and was neither surprised nor panicked by the diagnosis . Consequently my family were not panicked either. I chose to have a robot assisted prostatectomy carried out in the the Western General in Edinburgh. The procedure was relatively painless and initial recovery rapid. Now several months later I regard myself as fully recovered and subsequent monitoring of psa indicates that the procedure has effected a cure. The statistics show that all treatments for early stage prostate cancer are highly effective and that the chances of a return of the cancer after a prostatectomy only a fraction of the chances of a man with undiagnosed cancer developing the disease. If you have any prostate symptoms at all or a family history of prostate problems or even are celebrating your 50th birthday with no symptoms at all, it is worth consulting your GP and asking for a psa test. If your levels are raised then continued monitoring or a mri scan would be carried out with the slightly more invasive biopsy only carried out if necessary.

If you take these precautions then prostate cancer should cease to be a cause of undue concern. I now look forward to many years with my family including 7 lovely grandchildren and adding many more years of marriage to the one’s  I have already enjoyed.

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