WHEN Brian Gemmell’s fingertips became swollen, he thought he’d better see his GP.
Following his appointment the recovery truck driver was immediately sent to Hairmyres Hospital for an urgent chest x-ray, which revealed a growth in the centre of his right lung.
Father of two Brian Gemmell, 53, from East Kilbride, South Lanarkshire was then diagnosed with lung cancer.
He underwent surgery to remove the tumour at the Golden Jubilee National Hospital just weeks later.
Since then Brian has needed no further treatment.
It’s a widely held belief that lung cancer is largely untreatable — but Brian’s story demonstrates that this isn’t the case.
He’s taking part in a new Scottish Government Detect Cancer Early campaign, which aims to raise awareness of a key sign of lung cancer and help increase early diagnosis rates.
The earlier lung cancer is found, the easier it is to treat and the higher the chance of survival.
The campaign is being fronted by Scottish football legend Sir Alex Ferguson, who lost both his parents to lung cancer.
It aims to reassure Scots that seeing their GP with a persistent cough that lasts three weeks or more isn’t a waste of anyone’s time.
In most cases it’s probably nothing to worry about but it’s still best to get checked out.
“My GP was brilliant and everything moved really quickly once I was diagnosed. I would say I’m one of the fortunate ones,” explained Brian. “Every six months I go for a check-up and see a respiratory consultant to check everything is on track, which luckily it is.”
Three years on from his diagnosis and subsequent recovery, Brian now devotes his time to volunteering at the Golden Jubilee Hospital in Clydebank and with the Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation as a patient advocate to help others going through treatment.
His experience has also led to him discovering a love of exercise and he has trained as a cancer rehabilitation instructor and personal trainer.
“I’m fitter now than I ever have been,” added Brian. “I feel I’ve been given a second bite at the cherry as I get to see my grandkids growing up.
“So I’ve got to look after myself to make sure I can enjoy that time.
“My wife and daughter nagged me to go and see my GP, even though I’d noticed the symptoms I had.
“My advice would be to not ignore any worries you or those close to you have. It’s worth getting them checked out as finding lung cancer early is so important.”
Last week, Sir Alex joined Brian and other lung cancer survivors from across Scotland to take part in a film, Survive-a-side, highlighting the benefits of finding the disease early.
The former Manchester United manager recently dropped in on a five-a-side game in Glasgow involving survivors, their families and clinicians, ahead of Lung Cancer Awareness Month.
Kevin Blyth, consultant respiratory physician, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde said: “If you’ve had a cough that’s lasted for any length of time, particularly longer than three weeks, then we would really encourage you to go to your GP and get it checked.
“Chances are it will be nothing, but it’s important not to ignore it as there is so much more we can do to treat lung cancer if it’s found early.”
Lung Cancer Awareness Month runs throughout November. For more information, visit getcheckedearly.org