Belfast Telegraph

I’m living proof of how vital it is to find cancer early, says pensioner who works out five times a week

By Donna Deeney

Newbuildings pensioner Knox Wilson spends two hours at the gym five times a week - and believes he is walking proof of the importance of the early detection of cancer.

The 74-year-old also canoes, runs and climbs mountains as part of his hugely active lifesyle.

But things could have been so different if Knox had not had a conversation with a relative whose husband died from prostate cancer.

He recognised that he had many of the same symptoms and went to get himself checked out by a doctor.

It had been 20 years since the retired teacher had visited his GP, but after his daughter cajoled him into getting his symptoms examined, Knox was diagnosed with prostate cancer.

Eight years on he has joined the Western Trust's promotion of Men's Health Week to encourage others to get checked out for prostate and other cancers at the earliest opportunity.

He said: "I always eat a healthy diet and as a retired PE and music teacher, exercise has always been a big part of my life, so I didn't think of myself as an obvious candidate for cancer - which goes to show it can affect anyone.

"After talking to a cousin of mine, whose husband had passed away from prostate cancer, I realised I had the same symptoms.

"But it was only while I was staying with my daughter and she noticed how many times I was up to use the bathroom during the night that I made an appointment to see my GP.

"I hadn't been to a doctor in more than 20 years, but after a quick examination I was sent for further investigation and I was diagnosed as having prostate cancer.

"It was touch and go for me for a while, but I had seven weeks of radiotherapy and thankfully I haven't looked back."

Knox said that while he was having treatment he was able to use the gym at Queen's University and went there for a session every day.

He said: "I didn't do so much then obviously, but now I go to my own gym for two hours every day, along with my friend John.

"We stay in our caravan during the summer and I go for a run there every day.

"We take our speedboat out to do a bit of fishing and I still canoe, which is not too bad for someone who is almost 75.

"I also play golf and every two years we take part in the three peaks challenge, where we climb Ben Nevis, Scafell Pike and Snowdon.

"As you get older it is important to pay attention to your health by getting regular check-ups and a very important test to have is for bowel cancer.

"This is straightforward and takes two minutes, but it could save your life."

Statistics show that on average men die four-and-a-half years earlier than women, and have higher death rates than women for all of the leading causes of death.

Poor lifestyles are responsible for a high proportion of chronic diseases and late presentation to health services leads to a large number of problems becoming untreatable.

Sandra Semple, Western Trust health improvement officer, said: "Men's Health Week offers an ideal launchpad to do something positive and start this process.

"Making very small changes to your lifestyle can have a huge impact in the longer-term.

"Men's Health Week seeks to support men and boys to engage in healthier lifestyle choices and activities; encourage the early detection and treatment of health issues; heighten awareness of preventable health problems including mental health challenges.

"The focus this year is 'One small step for man, one giant leap for men's health', with the question: 'What's your small step going to be'?"

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