‘The night before my prostate op I cried my eyes out’: Rugby star Kenny Logan reveals he broke down in tears before cancer surgery over fears his wife and children would have to carry on without him
The night before he underwent surgery for prostate cancer in June this year, former rugby international Kenny Logan, who is married to TV presenter Gabby Logan, sat in his garden sobbing.
‘I cried my eyes out, thinking no way do I want to leave my kids at only 17 or Gabby,’ he says.
Although he had been told that at his age — he is 50 — the chances of the operation being successful were heavily weighted in his favour, Kenny, who lives with Gabby, 49, and their 17-year-old twins Lois and Reuben in South-West London, felt overcome with fear that he might still be left with cancer.
‘It was the first time I really thought I wouldn’t make it,’ he says. Kenny adds that he was extremely ‘lucky’ his cancer was even spotted in the first place.
Eighteen months ago he decided to have a male health MoT, which included a blood test, after Gabby started hormone replacement therapy (HRT).
The night before he underwent surgery for prostate cancer in June this year, former rugby international Kenny Logan, who is married to TV presenter Gabby Logan, sat in his garden sobbing
‘She was making sure she wouldn’t fall off a cliff, like women who suddenly have menopause symptoms,’ he says. Speaking to the Daily Mail in his first newspaper interview, he revealed the trauma of his diagnosis.
‘I thought I should find out what was happening to my hormones. I mean, what if in four years’ time I was at the bottom of the cliff, looking up at my wife who was fine because she was on HRT? I love her and don’t want to lose what we’ve got.’
The check in December 2020 included a test to check his levels of prostate-specific antigen (PSA), a protein made in the prostate, a walnut-shaped gland that sits below the bladder and produces fluid for sperm.
While PSA levels can rise for all sorts of reasons, including cycling, sex or an infection, persistently high levels can suggest prostate cancer.
‘I was told my levels were a little high, at 4.5ng/ml,’ says Kenny. Generally below 3ng/ml of blood is normal for men aged 50 to 59. ‘I had to ask what PSA meant — I hadn’t heard of it before.’
Kenny was given a digital rectal examination to check his prostate. ‘The doctor said it felt fine but I should see a urologist,’ he recalls. ‘Cancer wasn’t mentioned but I like to get on with things. Gabby asked what I was going to do and I made an appointment.’
Kenny saw a specialist privately, who gave him another PSA, which again was 4.5ng/ml.
He was sent for an MRI scan, which revealed the prostate was ‘a little swollen’, but Kenny was assured he was ‘fine’ and would be monitored every six months.
‘It was the first time I really thought I wouldn’t make it,’ he says. Kenny adds that he was extremely ‘lucky’ his cancer was even spotted in the first place
At his next check-up his PSA level had risen to just under 5ng/ml and he had a biopsy at the same private hospital, with 15 samples taken. He was told nothing needed to be done but that he would continue to be monitored.
A third test in January this year showed his PSA had risen to 6ng/ml and he underwent another biopsy, taking 30 samples. Within a week, he was at home on the sofa, hand-in-hand with Gabby, when he received the news that he says ‘neither of us expected’.
During a Zoom consultation, the specialist broke it to him that he had prostate cancer and needed to have treatment within four months. It was thought that the tumour was contained within the prostate but the medical team was concerned that it could start enlarging rapidly.
The couple struggled to process the news. ‘Our eyes were welling up,’ recalls Kenny. ‘Lois came in and heard what was being said, then Reuben arrived and we held each other afterwards and cried. ‘Reuben said: ‘I need you around, Dad. But you’ll smash this.’ The confidence and belief of my mindset came from my kids.’
Every year around 52,300 cases of prostate cancer are diagnosed in the UK, with 12,000 deaths. Men over 50 (or over 45 in the case of those with an African ancestry) are most at risk, although most cases are diagnosed in men in their 70s or 80s, according to the charity Prostate Cancer UK.
A family history of the disease can also increase the risk (there was none in Kenny’s family).
‘The great difficult is that when prostate cancer is early, it is symptomless, so how can you find it early?’ says Stephen Langley, a professor of urology at the Royal Surrey County Hospital.
Diagnosis often begins with a PSA test, which is available to men aged over 50 on the NHS who ask their GP for one.
After his experience, Kenny wants to encourage all men over 50 to have their PSA checked.
But the test is controversial because it can give false positive results, which may lead to intrusive biopsies (that can cause infection). A Europe-wide study of prostate cancer, published in the British Journal of Cancer in 2020, calculated that 60 to 70 per cent of positive PSA results are false.
Tests can also miss cases — one in seven men with a normal PSA results may have prostate cancer, says the NHS. Chiara De Biase, director of support and influencing at Prostate Cancer UK, says the PSA ‘isn’t sensitive enough or accurate enough’.
While some have called for a screening programme, the charity’s view is that this ‘would introduce far too many harms’, says Chiara De Biase.
‘We’re putting millions of pounds into clinical studies to find a better diagnostic tool.’
Professor Langley disagrees. ‘There have been screening studies showing that by regular checking of the PSA of men between 50 and 70, you can reduce prostate cancer deaths,’ he says.
‘Having a PSA test for younger men, in their early 50s, can be a sensible testing strategy.’
He adds that men aged between 50 and 60 with a PSA below 1ng/ml, probably don’t need it checked for more than five years, ‘but if it’s between 2ng/ml and 3ng/ml, you might want to have it checked every one or two years’.
A 2017 study, published in the journal European Urology, found that men aged between 50 and 54 who were screened using the PSA test had double the chance of being diagnosed with prostate cancer compared with men not screened. The study also found that there were 57 fewer prostate cancer deaths per 10,000 men in the screened group.
‘The game-changer is [using] MRI,’ says Professor Langley, explaining this can be given after a raised PSA but before a biopsy ‘and which is very good at detecting cancers that might be life-threatening and distinguishing them from the inconsequential ones so men don’t need to undergo unnecessary biopsies’.
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) said in 2019 that men suspected of prostate cancer should be offered a specialist MRI scan. Kenny and his specialist agreed that surgery would be the best option as he was young enough to recover well and have minimal side-effects. (Surgery carries the risk of erectile dysfunction and incontinence.)
Despite these assurances, Kenny found himself crying in his garden on the night before his surgery on June 7.
‘I’d have weird moments before the op and want to be in garden all day and Gabby knows me well enough to leave me to it,’ he says.
She was at his side when he came round from the three-hour operation. ‘I left hospital after three days with a catheter in for another week, feeling stiff and sore and sleeping a lot,’ he says.
He has been lucky to have minimal side-effects. ‘I knew there was a chance of urine leakage and had a few accidents,’ he says. ‘But all’s fine now. Gabby and I had also talked about the possibility of erectile dysfunction. But I’ve been very lucky on that front.’
And two weeks ago doctors confirmed there is no sign of cancer. ‘That was the biggest phew,’ he says.
‘It hit me hard when the surgeon said that if, instead of presenting early, I came to him some years on with symptoms, the cancer might have moved to my bones and I couldn’t have been cured.
‘He said that at 50 you have to try to find prostate cancer as there are no symptoms in the early stages, when it can be cured. If it finds you, the outcome will be different.
‘He also said that 40 per cent of my friends could have prostate cancer and not know it. It chilled my blood and that’s why I want to tell men to have a PSA test at 50.’
He adds: ‘Our children may both be off to university next year but we’ll keep our 21-year marriage strong even if our nest is empty. I want to do more with Gabbs.
‘I’m not one of those men trying to escape their wife. She’s my best friend. Now I just want other men to get tested. I can’t imagine what my life would have been like if I hadn’t.’
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