Rugby hero tackles cancer

Irish international rugby legend and TV commentator Tony Ward was a guest speaker at our 2015 Men and Cancer Conference.

The annual event, held in Antrim, highlighted Men’s Health Week, which runs from June 15-21, and was attended by more than 100 health professionals and others with an interest in men’s health and cancer issues.

The theme for the conference was ‘Time to write a new script’, looking at how to create change to support the health and wellbeing of men.

Mr Ward (pictured left with Gerry McElwee, Cancer Focus NI) was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2012 and shared his experiences with delegates.

He said: “When I realised something was wrong, I put off going to the doctor – like most men I was too macho and strong to do that, I thought I’d be fine. Eventually I did go and was diagnosed with an aggressive form of the disease. After the initial shock I decided this was a big game, one I had to play, and it had to be won.

“I’m doing very well now and have finished most of my medication. My main message to all men is to get checked early and take part in all the screenings you are offered – early detection saves lives.”

Conference focus

The main focus of the conference was older men and how to encourage them to take up screening offers, to see their doctor if they’re concerned about their health, and to generally improve their lifestyles to lower their risk of cancer.

Dervilia Kernaghan, from Cancer Focus NI, spoke about the charity’s Well Aware service, which visits older people in community settings such as residential homes and sheltered accommodation, giving advice about cancer prevention and raising awareness of signs and symptoms.

Older people

“As we grow older our risk of cancer increases so it’s vitally important to offer a cancer prevention programme targeting the over 60s. At present, 75% of all cancer diagnoses in Northern Ireland are among this age group. Our aim is to empower older people to take control of their own health and to feel confident enough to speak to a doctor if they have any health concerns.”

Other topics covered included the development of the Be Cancer Aware campaign for Northern Ireland, reasons why some people are not taking up free bowel cancer screening, and support services provided for men by Cancer Focus NI.

The Cancer Focus NI Man Van was also at the conference to give delegates a health MOT. To book the Man Van for your organisation or workplace, call 028 9066 3281 or email keepingwell@cancerfocusni.org. If you’d like to book a Well Aware session please email wellaware@cancerfocusni.org.



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