Posted: Sun 4th Feb 2024

Welsh Ambulance Service leader diagnosed with cancer urging people to learn about the signs and symptoms

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Sunday, Feb 4th, 2024

A Welsh Ambulance Service leader who discovered he had cancer is urging people to learn about the signs and symptoms.

 Paul Hollard began his NHS career as a registered nurse and nurse teacher and went on to become Chief Executive at North Glamorgan NHS Trust and later Acting Chief Executive at Cardiff and Vale University Health Board prior to his retirement from full time NHS in 2015

Now a Non-Executive Director at the ambulance service, Paul was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2022 after his friends encouraged him to seek medical advice.

Paul said: “I was out with friends and one of them jokingly asked what had taken me so long going to use the toilet.

 “I was having trouble peeing but laughed it off and said it was down to old age and nothing else because apart from taking longer than usual, I felt physically fit and well.

 “One particular friend knew from experience that trouble peeing was one of the symptoms of possible prostate cancer, having seen one of his own relatives suffer from the condition.

 “I remained dismissive for a long while, but he just wouldn’t let the matter drop and he eventually persuaded me to visit my GP and ask for a prostate specific antigen (PSA) blood test.

 “Although the results of the PSA test didn’t show overly high antigen levels, an examination of my prostate showed that it was enlarged and would require a biopsy. I was put on a fast-track referral to Urology and a Magnetic Resonance Imager (MRI) confirmed there was a tumour.

 “The biopsy results took a long time to come back, and the wait was a very anxious and difficult time for myself and my family.

 “Unfortunately, the results confirmed our worst fears, and I was formally diagnosed with prostate cancer and told that I would need further scans to see if the cancer had spread to any other parts of my body.”

Paul was referred for a PET (Positron Emission Tomography) scan, which revealed that the cancer had spread to his spine and pelvis.

 He said: “That was very difficult to hear, especially given how confident I had been at the start of the process when I so sure that it was just old age catching up with me.

 “My oncologist explained that because the cancer had spread, it was already at stage four, and I would need to begin a combination of radiotherapy and hormone treatment immediately.

 “Apart from suffering from hot flushes and increased fatigue, I appear to have responded well to the treatment and although I will have to continue with the hormone therapy for the rest of my life, I now feel much more positive about the future.”

 Despite the positive response to his treatment for prostate cancer, Paul was dealt another blow when he found a small lesion on his neck and asked for it to be checked.

 He said: “I found the lesion and thought I’d better get it looked at given my previous experience and the knowledge that delaying getting it checked would be a huge mistake if it did turn out to be something serious.

 “I once again was sent for an urgent referral to Dermatology, and as with the first time, the news was not what we had hoped for, and I was diagnosed with skin cancer.

 “The doctor informed me of the news and said that the lesion would need to be surgically removed and once this had been done, I would require additional monitoring and testing to see if any further treatment was required.”

 Paul, who celebrates his 66th birthday today, is now recovering and looking forward to his retirement from the Welsh Ambulance Service in March and to spending more time with his family and friends.

 He hopes that by sharing his story, other people may recognise the early warning signs of cancer and get the treatment they need, before it’s too late, however embarrassing they think it might be to raise an issue.

 For more information on prostate, skin and other types of cancer visit: https://www.macmillan.org.uk/cancer-information-and-support

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