56 year old Errol Mckellar starred in the BBC Lifeline Appeal for us recently. He is a car mechanic who owns a garage in Hackney, London was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2010 after his wife prompted him to go and see his GP. He didn’t have any symptoms.
“My wife was complaining about my snoring so I said to her if she made an appointment with the GP for me, then I’d go.
“So I went along to the doctors and while I was sitting in the waiting room, I was bit bored, and something made me go and pick up this leaflet about prostate cancer. I asked them, ‘how long will it take to do this prostate test?’ and they said, ’10 minutes - and we can do it now.’ That 10 minutes changed my life.”
Errol’s PSA level came back a bit high and further tests revealed he had prostate cancer.
At first he found it incredibly difficult to come to terms with.
“When I got my results the doctor said to me, ‘look, your prostate is covered in cancer, you could be dead in six months.’ I broke down. I literally just broke down, I was distraught, I was in tears. You know, I’m not ashamed to admit, I really cried. You imagine going into a room with no light. That’s what it felt like. It felt as if someone had pulled the plug on me. It was a very difficult period and took me a long time to get positive again.
“And my wife, she let me cry and then she turned around and said to me right, you’ve never quit at anything in your life, so what are you going to do now? And that’s when I made this decision to turn this negative thing into a positive thing. I told myself, I’m going beat this.”
In February 2011 Errol had an operation to remove his prostate and went on to have three months of radiotherapy and has now been given the all clear, although he is dealing with some side effects from his treatment.
“Since having treatment, I do have a numbness, down there, in the lower part of my body. I’m a young person, I’m an active person and when certain ‘tools of your trade’ are taken away from you – it’s difficult to deal with. But for me, I’m alive, and that’s what’s important to me.”
Now Errol is determined to overcome the disease and has pledged to raise awareness amongst men of his age. He encourages men who come into his garage to go and speak to their GP about their risk.
“I say to my customers, when was the last time you had your prostate checked? You brought your car in here for me to check because there’s a problem. Do you know what’s going on in your own inside? Men need to talk about it – even if they don’t want to.
“I talk to men of all ages. I talk to women too – because they get the message across to their men. I try and spread the message every single day. I want to reach men before it’s too late. I really believe we can beat this.”
Watch Errol's story on Michael Parkinson's BBC Lifeline appeal