Former Wigan councillor backs charity campaign after his own cancer battle
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Stuart Keane was given the devastating news he had cancer in May last year, but he is now on the road to recovery after taking part in a clinical trial.
It was funded by Stand Up To Cancer – a national campaign from Cancer Research UK and Channel 4 – and he hopes his story will inspire people to raise money to help make the next cancer breakthrough happen.
But after a series of tests, biopsies and scans, he was diagnosed with head and neck cancer in May last year.
Just after his 59th birthday, Stuart had five hours of surgery to remove the tumours from his neck and mouth.
Afterwards he signed up for the PATHOS clinical trial, which involved six weeks of radiotherapy and two sessions of chemotherapy.
Stuart’s final radiotherapy treatment was in September last year and he was over the moon to be declared cancer-free by Christmas.
He has dedicated the past 10 months to recovery and is taking each day at a time, as he often still suffers from fatigue.
Stuart, who lives in Golborne, has retired from his job at Transport for Greater Manchester and dedicates as much time as possible to his family and friends, including his two grown-up children Ella and Jack.
He said: “It was important for me to take part in the clinical trial, as I thought I might not be here without people in the past having taken part in similar trials. The radiotherapy did get progressively harder as the weeks went on.
“When the consultant told me I was cancer-free, I went straight to my car and cried like a baby! Now that I am in recovery, I can sometimes feel like I am on a climb and I slip back a bit – it’s been a real challenge.
“I have a great network of friends, including from my old TA days, and I have been positive throughout. I have tried to get rid of anything negative around me which has definitely helped.
“Success stories like mine would not be possible without research. That’s why I’m lending my support to this vitally important campaign. Now is the moment for everyone across the North West to Stand Up To Cancer.”
Stand Up To Cancer is supporting the UK-wide arm of PATHOS, an international trial that is testing less intensive treatment options for cancer patients after surgery.
PATHOS hopes to find a way to improve patients’ quality of life after treatment, without affecting the chance of their cancer returning. It is projected to be the largest ever clinical trial for head and neck cancer.
Stuart follows in the footsteps of Bridgerton actor Kathryn Drysdale, from Wigan, who shared her personal cancer experience, alongside a host of other famous faces, for the Stand Up To Cancer campaign.
She revealed one of her best friends had been diagnosed with stage four bowel cancer when she was 36 and given a year to live, but four years later she is cancer-free thanks to medical treatment.
Around 44,100 people are diagnosed with cancer every year in the North West, so there is a key focus on making advances in medical treatment.
Since its launch in 2012, Stand Up To Cancer has raised more than £93m, which has funded 64 clinical trials and research projects involving more than 13,000 cancer patients.
People across Wigan are being urged to back the campaign by raising money.
Gym bunnies and sofa surfers alike being encouraged to flex their fund-raising muscles by getting sponsored to do 100 squats every day throughout November.
Participants can adapt the challenge to suit their fitness level and complete their squats any time, anywhere – either all at once or throughout the day. By the end of the 30 days, they will have clocked-up a total of 3,000 squats to help power life-saving research.
Alternatively, less energetic folk can choose to donate, raise money in their own way or pick from a host of fun-filled ideas, with a free fund-raising pack available online for inspiration and support.
Cancer Research UK spokesperson for the North West, Jane Bullock, said: “Thanks to our supporters, our researchers are working tirelessly to help more people like Stuart survive, from developing a molecule to super-charge the immune system to attack tumours, to re-programming viruses to seek and destroy cancer cells.
“But we must go further and faster. One in two of us will get cancer in our lifetime. All of us can help beat it. That’s why we’re asking everyone to Stand Up To Cancer with us. Whether it’s choosing to donate, fund-raise or tackle the ups and downs of our squats challenge, if thousands of us take a stand we’ll speed up the progress of vital research, meaning more people live longer, better lives, free from the fear of cancer.”
The Stand Up To Cancer campaign will continue throughout October, with a collection of special programmes airing on Channel 4 and culminating in a night of live television on Friday, November 3.
To donate or fund-raise visit su2c.org.uk.