Retired civil servant, Gus Barry from Poyntzpass is helping Action Cancer by sharing his story of prostate cancer.
Prostate cancer is the third most common cause of cancer death in men, accounting for over 200 deaths per year in Northern Ireland.
Gus was diagnosed in 2005. His wife, a nurse had encouraged him to get checked out because he had noticed a decreased flow in urine.
“At the time I didn’t feel unwell at all,” said Gus,
“I decided to take my wife’s advice but this was largely just to reassure her that nothing was wrong.
“I went for a PSA test and I registered 4.1 which is a slightly raised result. I was then referred onto the Belfast City Hospital to get a biopsy done. I got the shock of my life when the results came back as cancerous,” he explained.
Gus then had the whole prostate gland removed via a procedure named a radical prostatectomy.
“The surgeon, Mr P.F. Keane and the medical team did a great job, I can’t praise them enough.
“I was fortunate in that I did not need to receive any chemotherapy or radiotherapy,” said Gus.
“My cancer diagnosis changed my life dramatically, it made me take control of my life and I changed my lifestyle, I now watch what I eat and try to exercise. I took early retirement and am enjoying being a part of the lives of my five grandchildren.
“I call myself a prostate cancer survivor. I still go for an annual PSA test. Sometimes I am almost afraid to go in case I get bad news. But I just have to do it,” Gus added.
Action Cancer statistics state that although men are 16% more likely to develop cancer than women, they are 40% more likely to die from the disease. Recent research has revealed that men are not good at going to the GP and can ignore health symptoms for up to two years.
Gus’ younger brother in Australia unfortunately ignored his symptoms and by the time he went for the PSA test it was too late. He died of prostate cancer aged 52.
Gus has a strong message to communicate to all men, “Don’t ignore your symptoms, get to your GP. If it wasn’t for my wife’s persistence, I would not be here today. Don’t die of ignorance.”
Symptoms of prostate cancer include: having to rush to the toilet to pass urine; passing urine more often than usual, especially at night; difficulty passing urine, including straining to pass it or stopping and starting; a sense of not being able to completely empty the bladder; pain when passing urine; blood in the urine or semen.
Book a health check online at www.actioncancer.org or call 028 9080 3344.
Action Cancer offers free M.O.T. health checks to males aged 16 plus at Action Cancer House in Belfast and on board the Big Bus, supported by SuperValu which travels to over 220 locations throughout Northern Ireland every year. Action Cancer health checks do not include a PSA test, go to your GP immediately if you have any of the above symptoms or are concerned.
The charity also offers free counselling and complementary therapy to assist not only those diagnosed with cancer but also family members, friends and carers.