Nominated by Bill Louden, his best friend for 60 years, Alan Rew [pictured right] has just been announced as McEwan's fourth McNificent Man in our fundraising and awareness partnership with the Scottish brewer. He tells us about overcoming prostate cancer in 2015, how Tai Chi has helped him and why Bill is such a good friend.
I was aware of prostate cancer, but I wasn’t especially preoccupied with it. Even though my cancer turned out to be quite aggressive and would have moved beyond the prostate pretty quickly, I didn’t have any symptoms at all.
At first I was just really surprised and taken aback because I felt perfectly well. Also, to be honest, I was a bit annoyed. I was just approaching retirement age (1) and looking forward to having only a year to work. I just thought, what an absolute nuisance! Just when I’m ready to branch out on the next phase of my life, here we are.
So I opted for surgery and then radiotherapy. And they told me when they examined my prostate after removal, the cancer was literally at the point of breaking out.
I did have some side effects. The worst was immediately after surgery: I had terrible urinary incontinence – almost complete loss of bladder control. I must admit, I did find it depressing as I just couldn't go anywhere. But fortunately, I responded very well to physiotherapy.
Apart from Bill, the most McNificient people in my life are actually women!
On the whole, I am a very positive person (2). The people who are nearest and dearest to me wouldn’t put up with me moaning anyway!
One thing that’s been really important to me is practising my Tai Chi. I was doing it before I was diagnosed, and now I practice regularly. It didn’t help me beat cancer, but it’s definitely helped me get my life back on track and get over the impact of the treatment.
Bill was also greatly supportive and an immense boost to me through that time. He's one of the funniest people I know and a very robust character. We live quite far apart (3) but always keep in touch – sometimes very closely, sometimes not for ages. But when I was admitted to hospital, the man was in every day – absolutely every day.
Apart from Bill, the most McNificient people in my life are actually women! My partner Avril has been amazing through everything and put up with so much. I managed to break my leg and ankle between having my prostate operation and radiotherapy, and she was outstandingly helpful through that. My step-daughter, Stephanie, is an inspiration too.
Now I'm finally retired and well, I get to see Bill more often. So I'm sure we'll enjoy a few glasses of the free beer together (4) !
(1) Alan was 63 when he was diagnosed, which happened as he was being monitored for another recent diagnosis of type 2 diabetes.
(2) Bill said he nominated Alan as a McNificent Man because "throughout a tough five years, he's never felt sorry for himself or complained about his lot, He just took it on the chin and got on with it".
(3) Alan lives on the Isle of Bute.
(4) As part of his McNificent Man prize, Alan will get a case of McEwan's beer every month for a year.
Photo taken by Tony Nicoletti