‘Have a conversation with your GP’ Dungannon cancer survivor urges other men

Frank McNally survived prostate cancer and now wants to help others
Frank McNally survived prostate cancer and now wants to help others

A cancer survivor from Dungannon is urging other men not to ignore warning signs about their health, after having his prostrate removed.

Frank Kelly, who is now a volunteer with the Prostate Cancer UK charity, is raising awareness of the disease in Northern Ireland.

He was diagnosed with prostate cancer eight years ago when he was 50-years-old.

Now the civil servant is spreading the word among colleagues and to clubs and groups across the region.

He said he had been experiencing some pain in his abdomen and when he went to his GP for an annual health check, the doctor did an additional test which indicated that there was something wrong with his prostate.

“I know now through my work with Prostate Cancer UK if you are over 50 and have any concern or family history, you can ask GPs to carry out a test,” he explained.

Frank went on to say he was sent to Craigavon Hospital for a biopsy which confirmed a quarter of his prostate was cancerous.

“It was a big shock. I had no recognisable symptoms,” he added.

Frank was then faced with the task of breaking the news to his five children.

“The consultant spoke to myself and my wife. When they took out the prostate, it was three-quarters cancerous. I made the right call.”

He said that he did not require any other treatment and considers himself to be “fortunate”.

“I never thought that it would happen to me,” he added. “I would urge any man with any symptoms or thinks there is something wrong with their body to have a conversation with their GP.

“Everybody knows their own body. If something is not right, it could be nothing, it does not necessarily mean you have prostate cancer. It is the most important conversation you could ever have and could save your life.”

Frank admitted the test can be invasive but he added that it only takes a “couple of seconds”.

Highlighting the role of Prostate Cancer UK, he continued: “Three years ago, I became aware that they were looking for people here to help them to raise their profile in Northern Ireland.”

Frank explained that he was keen to get involved after his experiences and that he “wanted to give something back”.

“I want to try to raise awareness and help people out there,” he said. “I go out to businesses and clubs and in September I will be contacting football clubs.

“Through this work, I have come to realise how many people are affected by prostate cancer and it has given me a bit of motivation.

“The more prominence this form of cancer is given the better.”

Frank is also urging men who have received treatment and are recovering from the disease to complete Prostate UK’s survey.

The ‘Life after Prostate Cancer’ survey will be sent out to more than 2,000 men in Northern Ireland. He said: “In Northern Ireland there are over 6,500 men like me - living with or after a prostate cancer diagnosis, but many are not as lucky. Many live with life changing side effects such as incontinence and erectile dysfunction and every year more than 250 will sadly die from the disease. This needs to change.

“Over the next few weeks men who have recently been diagnosed with prostate cancer will start receiving a crucial survey from their hospital.

“The answers will be used to help make sure other men can be better advised and supported in the future, and to persuade health providers to invest in the services that men say make the most difference to them.

“It is very important because the more information and experiences we find out about from other men will provide support, help research and persuade politicians and health providers to invest in services.

“I urge any readers who receive this survey to please fill it in - this isn’t just another lifestyle survey. The more men who respond, the more forceful the findings will be.”

If any club or organisation would like to hear Frank’s presentation, email him at fmcnally@hotmail.co.uk