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Detect Cancer Early

A campaign starring football legend Sir Alex Ferguson has been launched to help increase the early detection of lung cancer in Scotland. The former football manager talks about how early detection of lung cancer can give you ‘extra time’ to spend with your family. He also stresses that although he lost both parents to the disease, lung cancer is much more treatable these days, and people do survive it.

To launch the campaign, Health Secretary Alex Neil met with three lung cancer survivors.

Lung cancer is the most common cancer in Scotland, and this new advert encourages people to get checked early if they have a persistent cough or cough that has changed or any concerns. Lung cancer is much more treatable than it used to be. The earlier lung cancer is detected the easier it is to treat and the better the chance of a successful outcome.”

Alex Neil, Health Secretary

Sir Alex Ferguson

Sir Alex Ferguson is backing the campaign as he lost both parents, who were in their sixties, to the disease. His father Alexander died in 1979, while his mother Elizabeth passed away in 1986.

I wanted to be involved in this campaign as I lost both my parents to lung cancer. I know the devastating impact cancer can have on families. But cancer’s not what it used to be and there are now treatments that can save or extend your life. So rather than doing nothing about it, I urge anyone who is worried to get checked as early as they can.

Sir Alex Ferguson

Living proof

Jennifer Chapman from Aberdeen, Bill Culbard from Dunblane and John Hughes from Blantyre all took part in the campaign and shared their stories to highlight, when caught early, you can survive lung cancer.

Jennifer’s story

Jennifer Chapman, 55, from Aberdeen was diagnosed with lung cancer 13 years ago she is living proof that modern treatments can help people to continue living their lives.

While on holiday abroad Jenny noticed something wasn’t right as she was coughing relentlessly. She went straight to her GP when she returned home, suspected the disease and sent her for an x-ray which confirmed the diagnosis.

She was upset but knew what to expect as her father had died of lung cancer.

I think I knew there was something wrong with me and after seeing what my father went through, I knew the signs of lung cancer. So I was upset but in a way, not surprised.

Jennifer, living with lung cancer

She saw a specialist, who conducted a bronchoscopy and a biopsy, and took part in a lung cancer trial. After four weeks of chemotherapy, Jenny had a successful operation to remove a third of her lung. Her recovery from the operation was tough but her husband, friends and family encouraged her to get up and about.

However a year later she was told she had a secondary brain tumour stemming from lung cancer and needed radiotherapy immediately. Her specialist says the cancer is ‘lying dormant’ but Jenny feels good and has carried on happily living her life, working as a primary school teaching. She regularly goes to the gym and loves going out for long walks.

I’m still here, 13 years after being initially diagnosed. I shouldn’t have been here six months after being diagnosed but I am. And I live a very happy, fit life. It’s so important to go to your doctor with any concerns about your chest – the earlier the better as it could save your life.

Bill’s story

Bill Culbard, 70, from Dunblane, was also diagnosed in 2000 with inoperable lung cancer but he is now fit and well after receiving the all clear following treatment. He credits his successful battle with the disease to the early detection of his cancer.

Bill went to his GP after a friend noticed he had a bad wheeze at night.

My doctor was fantastic and took my concerns very seriously. He examined me and confirmed that I did indeed have a bad wheeze which could be something more serious. I had some x-rays taken and the next morning he called to tell me that there was a shadow across my lung, which was swiftly diagnosed as inoperable cancer.

Bill, living with lung cancer since 2000

When I heard that it was cancer the bottom fell out of my world. My dad died of lung cancer when he was just 39 years old so I automatically feared the worst. Breaking the news to my family and friends was particularly difficult.

In February 2001, after undergoing chemotherapy and radiotherapy, Bill received the good news that the cancer had gone.

Being diagnosed with cancer will always be a big deal and a huge worry but if it’s caught early enough you stand a much better chance of survival.

It’s normal to be frightened of cancer but early detection really does make a difference to your options and outcome. Whether it’s a lump or a persistent cough you should always get it checked by your doctor. In most cases it’s nothing to worry about but it could save your life.

John’s story

John Hughes, 64, from Blantyre, will be seven years clear of lung cancer in December this year. Getting lung cancer was a real shock for John, a lifelong truck driver, who had stopped smoking over 20 years ago. One night driving home, he had a coughing fit and was coughing up blood. An x-ray revealed a shadow on his lung and after tests and a biopsy, he was diagnosed with lung cancer.

John said: “I was totally distraught when I found out as my father had died of lung cancer. And back then, knowing you had a lung cancer was a death sentence. It really plays havoc with your mind. And the worry you feel when you hear – you think your shot at life is over. My wife and son were devastated.

But the doctors and nurse specialist gave me hope. They told me they were going to try and cure me. So that made me positive, and I had to stay positive for my family.”

John underwent chemotherapy to reduce the size of the tumour and in June, a year later, they removed his lung. He also had radiotherapy to make sure the cancer did not spread.

I try to watch what I eat, keep reasonably fit and spend quality time with my family. That’s what’s important in life and I’m glad that I’m still here. Cancer is a different disease and you shouldn’t lose hope if you’re diagnosed with lung cancer. If doctors can’t cure you, they’ll be able to help in some way.

John, living with lung cancer

For more information about the campaign, visit Get Checked Early