Belfast accountant: I was diagnosed with prostate cancer by complete fluke

Noel Gibson
Noel Gibson
  • Noel Gibson, 54, shares how he was diagnosed with prostate cancer by chance and how a positive attitude has helped him deal with the condition

“I was diagnosed with prostate cancer by a complete fluke. In early 2015 I went to my GP to have my annual cholesterol check and mentioned that I was feeling a bit tired and didn’t have as much energy.

“I put it down to overdoing it at work. He suggested giving me an MOT, checking my liver, kidney and heart, as well as glucose levels and so on.

‘I want to show that there is life after a cancer diagnosis and that’s a very powerful message’

“The doctor phoned me the next day to say all those things were completely clear but the PSA (the test for prostate cancer) level in my blood was up. I would never have thought of having that test, I had no symptoms, and still have no symptoms.

“After that I had a huge number of tests. My PSA blood level was monitored from then on but didn’t go down. Six months later in November I had an MRI scan, which came back clear, but a biopsy showed there were cancerous cells.

“It was still at a very early stage so I was monitored every three months, what they call active surveillance.

“The PSA level kept creeping up slowly and in November last year a second biopsy showed a little bit of cancer spread. My consultant said it was time to do something about it.

“I travelled to Addenbrookes Hospital in Cambridge for prostate surgery on February 21. My consultant said he viewed the treatment as ‘curative’ and that I should have no need for either chemo or radiotherapy afterwards. That’s because of early detection.

“The biggest pain was having to travel for the treatment and being away from family and friends. No hospital in Northern Ireland has the Da Vinci Robot that performs the keyhole surgery required - the equipment costs around £1.5m. My consultant in Cambridge alone performed 95 prostatectomies on men from Northern Ireland last year.

“I’m very grateful to my GP who spotted an elevated PSA, as I had no symptoms beforehand and still don’t. If it wasn’t for early detection I would still be walking around thinking there is nothing wrong with me.

“But the journey is a little scary at times, from biopsies, diagnosis, consultation and now surgery. But it’s not all doom and gloom, I’m very positive about it. I feel extremely lucky that I got this diagnosis early enough that my cancer is treatable. If more men were educated about going to their GP, having a check, then they too could hope for a positive outcome.

“Cancer is out of my life now. I’m keeping fit – I walk about three to five miles every day, go to the gym three or four times a week and do a lot of cardio work. I do a bit of gardening too and try to keep as physically active as I can. I watching my diet, and I am trying everything to maintain a healthy lifestyle post op.

“I’m so much in favour of staying positive and making the most out of life. I’m a big fan of the work Cancer Focus NI does. I took part in the Belfast marathon relay race after my diagnosis and raised £1,300 for them.

“I wanted something positive to come out of this, and I think it is so important to try and help other people who are in a worse situation than I am who are dealing with cancer.

“People were shocked when they heard I had prostate cancer and said I looked the picture of health. I wanted to prove I was healthy despite having this. There is life after a cancer diagnosis and that’s a very powerful message.”