22 years on from his lung cancer diagnosis, Bill Culbard, 78, is encouraging those worried about potential lung cancer symptoms to get checked without delay.
In February 2000, Bill, then 57, was diagnosed with lung cancer, after a family friend noticed his persistent cough and along with his wife Gwen, encouraged him to make an appointment with his GP.
Talking about his diagnosis, Bill said:
"In February 2000 we had a friend staying with us for a week from California. She was a nurse and noticed that I had a really bad wheeze. I was aware of the problem but I didn't think it was anything to worry about. However, by the following morning she had spoken to my wife, Gwen, who convinced me to get it checked out by a GP.
“My doctor was fantastic and took my concerns very seriously. He examined me and confirmed that I did indeed have a bad wheeze which could be something more serious. I had some x-rays taken and the next morning he called to tell me that there was a shadow across my lung, which was swiftly diagnosed as cancer.
“When I heard that it was cancer the bottom fell out of my world. My dad died of lung cancer when he was just 39 years old so I automatically feared the worst. Me and Gwen had only been married 16 months when I got the diagnosis and breaking the news to my family and friends was particularly difficult.
“It all happened very fast from this point. Just three weeks later I was at the Beatson in Glasgow receiving chemotherapy followed by radiotherapy. I was very fortunate and the treatment worked extremely well. By December I was back at work, which was a big boost to morale."
In February 2001 a specialist gave Bill the good news that the cancer had gone. Since recovering from being treated for lung cancer more than twenty years ago he has experienced many highlights in his life.
"Since my diagnosis we've been able to travel in the USA and Europe. I went back to work as a Security Officer and later Head of Security at Stirling University, where I stayed until I was 67 - pretty good going for someone who'd had cancer! I also worked with the Cancer Care Research Centre at Stirling University as a Patient Advisor, and when I retired in November 2009, the University awarded me an honorary MA degree for my work there."
“Life has certainly changed, but lung cancer hasn’t held me back in the least. In a lot of ways, it made life more interesting.”
Bill's advice to others is simple. He said:
"Being diagnosed with cancer will always be a big deal and a huge worry but if it's caught early enough you stand a strong chance of survival. It's normal to be terrified of cancer, I certainly was, but early detection really does make a difference to your options and outcome.
“The best thing I ever did was go to the doctor, that visit gave me an extra 22 years and counting. Whether it's a persistent cough, breathlessness, any of these things that aren’t normal for you should trigger a wee thought in your head to go and get checked out. In most cases there’s nothing to worry about, but there’s every chance that visit to the GP could save your life."