Lisa Skinner met the presenter for a BBC Breakfast news story this week, crediting him going public about his prostate cancer for alerting her to her father's symptoms and catching his cancer early. We speak to Lisa and look back at the extraordinary impacts Bill Turnbull has had this year on driving awareness of the most common cancer in men.

21 Dec 2018

A Lancashire woman has thanked Bill Turnbull in person for saving her dad's life. Lisa Skinner, from Poulton-le-Fylde, credits the former BBC presenter's TV appearance in March opening up about his prostate cancer diagnosis for her prompting her 65-year-old dad Carl to get his prostate checked.

"I'd noticed that some of the symptoms that Bill mentioned on the TV were similar to what my dad was experiencing, such as needing to get up in the night to go to the toilet," she recalls, after meeting up with Bill for a BBC Breakfast news story this week.

Having booked a doctor's appointment for Carl, where a blood test showed he had an elevated PSA level, both Lisa and her dad (pictured above) were shocked when a subsequent biopsy showed cancer in all 12 prostate samples taken.

I'm so grateful Bill Turnbull prompted me to book my dad in for a doctor's appointment. If the cancer hadn't been caught then, I dread to think whether he'd be alive today

"I was devastated," said Lisa. "Especially when later, the urologist said the cancer had advanced into the bone in his pelvic area."

Fortunately, further investigations by an oncologist discovered the bone tumor was benign and the cancer was only locally advanced. Now, after undergoing hormone therapy and radiotherapy, Lisa says Carl is feeling positive and enjoying life more.

"Watching him go through everything has definitely changed my outlook on life," she says. "As an only child, I'm really close to my dad. He's my friend as well as my dad.

"So I'm so grateful Bill Turnbull prompted me to book my dad in for a doctor's appointment. If the cancer hadn't been caught then, I dread to think whether he'd be alive or not today."

Turnbull revelation caused surge in NHS referrals and helpline calls

In March, Bill Turnbull caused a huge boost in traffic to our website and the busiest day in the history of our Specialist Nurses' helpline when he took to Twitter to reveal he had advanced prostate cancer. Web-page views more than doubled to 212k, while our nurses took 205 calls from people with queries or concerns about the disease.

The NHS even said he and Stephen Fry's similarly timed prostate cancer announcement had caused a 15% surge in referrals for cancer diagnostic services and treatments, and contributed to the NHS missing its waiting time targets.

"Prostate Cancer UK is incredibly grateful to Bill Turnbull for bravely talking publicly about his prostate cancer experience this year," says our CEO, Angela Culhane. "Lisa and Carl’s experience as a result represents real-life proof of just how much of an impact Bill’s story has had."

Bill at our London carol concert

When we spoke to Bill in October, he said he had stepped out of the media spotlight to focus on his health and spent the last year taking solace in family, friends and football.

"I’ve had wonderful support from my family and friends and people I’ve never met," he said. "Everywhere I go people say ‘how are you?’ and they seem interested and concerned, which is wonderful and helps.

"I think it’s really important to stay positive – that’s part of the treatment, really. You can’t let this disease get on top of you because psychology has a lot to do with it. My determination is to treat it like a long-term disease and to see what we can do with it through the coming years.

"One thing I’m not going to let it do is get me down because then it wins. And I’m not going to let it win."

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