Twin saved from prostate cancer after diagnosis
An identical twin diagnosed with prostate cancer has saved the life of his brother after encouraging him to get checked.
As Prostate Cancer Awareness Month, Blue September, gets underway, they're now warning other men it's not an "old man's disease" and to get tested early.
Chief Petty Officer Bart Couprie lives by the Navy's core values - courage, comradeship and commitment.
So when he discovered he had prostate cancer at the age of 47, he wanted to raise awareness so more men get checked.
"Well it all started when I just couldn't go to the toilet properly - no pressure, no strength in the stream, didn't feel like I could empty my bladder."
Bart made an appointment with his doctor and underwent a series of tests.
"Got the word - you have a very aggressive cancer of the prostate and we are going to treat it very aggressively."
One of his first concerns was his twin brother. Boudewyn Couprie had none of the symptoms, but tests revealed he too had early stage prostate cancer. He says Bart saved his life.
"It took my brother getting diagnosed for me to get checked," says Boudewyn. "It was certainly a red flag and I have to say that if he hadn't have been diagnosed I wouldn't have got checked."
Around 3000 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer every year in New Zealand. Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in New Zealand men and the third most common cause of cancer death.
But new advances in PET/CT scanning are helping doctors to better identify it, which means more accurate detection and more appropriate treatment.
Dr Remy Lim says early detection is still the best cure.
"As with most cancers, the earlier we detect them the higher the chances of a patient getting cured of their disease."
Bart and his twin agree.
"If you find it early and treat it early, you can go on to live a long, happy and full life," says Bart.
They say the blood test and digital examination are nothing to be scared of.