Cancer survivor urges others to seek GP help early

A cancer survivor who says an early diagnosis saved his life is urging people to visit their GP at the first signs of illness. Tony Gillard from Aberdare, Rhondda Cynon Taf, was diagnosed with kidney cancer a week before he was due to retire in 2008.

The 79-year-old said if he had ignored the early symptoms, he might never have met his four great-grandchildren.

It comes as Cancer Research UK revealed more than half of people in more deprived areas of Wales did not contact their GP with possible cancer symptoms.The charity has launched its Spot Cancer Early awareness campaign, to help people feel more confident seeking help.

“If you’re worried at all, speak to your doctor. It could save your life,” said Mr Gillard. The grandad-of-three and great grandad-of-four knew something wasn’t right when he noticed blood in his urine.

“I thought that the colour of my urine could have been because I’d eaten beetroot the night before. Looking back, I had noticed pain in my right side but hadn’t thought much about it.”

Mr Gillard called his wife, Linda, who encouraged him to get checked out by a doctor straight away.

He said: “I had an ultrasound at the hospital and found out I had kidney cancer. Thinking the worst, I asked the doctor, ‘how long do I have left’?”

An MRI revealed Tony’s cancer was contained to his kidney.

“I decided to book a holiday to Spain with all my family and a few days earlier I received the best news – that the surgery was a success, and I was cancer free,” he said.Mr Gillard said his diagnosis was a “wake-up call” which kick-started a whole new way of life for him – including a healthier diet, running, and losing nearly five stone.

He completed Cancer Research UK’s Race for Life last year and has signed up to take part in this year’s event in May at Cardiff’s Bute Park, alongside his son Michael, to mark his 80th birthday.

“Here I am more than 15 years later, almost 80, and fitter than ever,” he said. My advice is, as soon as things don’t appear right, go and get checked.

“If I had ignored my symptoms, maybe I wouldn’t be here now.” The Cancer Research UK study surveyed more than 4,000 people across the UK, including 160 from Wales’ lowest socioeconomic areas.

It found the most common reason (19%) given for not going to the GP was difficulty getting an appointment.

Other reasons for delaying seeking help were not wanting to talk to a receptionist about symptoms (15%), not wanting to be seen as someone who makes a fuss (14%) and worrying about symptoms not being taken seriously (14%).

Source: BBC

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