Ken McBride is a member of the Northern Ireland Cancer Consumer Forum, which works alongside researchers and influences decisions to enhance the quality of research and maximise patient benefit.
Self-employed, Ken (60) is married to Helen and has one son, Jamie, who lives in Edinburgh. The diagnosis of prostate cancer in January 2015 came as a complete shock to him.
Ken said: “I had known for months something was wrong as I had been getting up six or seven times at night to the toilet.
“However more tests and scans revealed I had cancer and when I heard those words I was completely shocked. It came as a real blow.”
His referral to an oncologist at the cancer centre in Belfast City Hospital changed all that, “The staff were amazing,” he added “I was immediately put at ease and all my fears were allayed.”
Radiotherapy was prescribed and Ken says the treatment he received after his diagnosis was first class, with the specialists telling him about what lay ahead while encouraging him to ask questions. There was one piece of good news in that although his cancer was aggressive, he was relieved to hear it had not spread.
“One of the biggest problems when you get a diagnosis like that is the unknown. Cancer is no respecter of age, gender or position and the uncertainty of it all can play havoc with your mind, but the staff at the hospital made it easy for me to cope.”
Meanwhile Ken was offered the chance to take part in the Stampede Trial, funded by Cancer Research UK It was described as one of the most important clinical trials ever in advanced prostate cancer and has led to practise-changing improvements in the treatment of this disease.
Ken didn’t hesitate when asked to take part in the trial and found, at the heart of his treatment, was a group of people who would be with him all the way.
“I was prescribed hormone treatment in tablet form in order to shrink the tumour, which was replaced with hormone injections after a few weeks.
“My treatment would not have happened but for someone before me taking part in a clinical trial, so I just wanted to give something back,” he added.
Five years down the line, Ken is enjoying live. He continues to be monitored and has been able to have phone consultations every three to six months throughout Covid.
“Being a member of the Consumer Forum means patients contribute a lot to the research,” said Ken. “Pre-Covid we had around 20 members at meetings. The feedback we can give is vital.”
He is also backing Cancer Research UK’s campaign to help save more lives as the charity fights back from the impact of the pandemic.
“I am delighted to have the opportunity to support this campaign,” said Ken “ As a result of the pandemic, cancer is as urgent an issue now as it has ever been. With so many people affected we are all in this together, so I hope that people across Northern Ireland will join me and play their part. Every action – big or small – helps Cancer Research UK ensure more people like me survive.
“There is one important message I want to get across. I think a lot of people were reluctant to visit their doctor during the pandemic and therefore things were missed. Please listen to your body and persevere until you see someone. It is very important to be monitored.”
Jean Walsh, Cancer Research UK spokesperson for Northern Ireland, said: “This past year proves, more than any other, the value of research and what can be achieved together. Just like science is our route out of the pandemic, science is our route to beating cancer.
“That’s why we want to harness the ‘people power’ of our incredible supporters, because the progress we make relies on every hour of research, every pound donated and everyone who gets involved. So, whether they give £2 a month, sign up to Race for Life, volunteer at our shops or pledge to leave a gift in their Will - with their help we believe that together we will beat cancer.”
The charity was able to spend over £2 million last year on some of the UK’s leading scientific and clinical research.
You can play a part in supporting life-saving research at cruk.org
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