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Brian’s Story

Brian Heaney – West Group Buddy

I was born in Portadown, Northern Ireland in 1942 and come from a large family, with two brothers and three sisters. After leaving school at fifteen, I got a job in a lovely upmarket inn where I trained as a silver service waiter (not something I use daily these days!!).  I also served behind the ‘Scots Bar’ where I learned skills that I would use for the whole of my working life.  After ten years, I left this job for a promoted position in another inn where I was made manager.

My hobby was cycling so I joined a local club and racked up thousands of miles during my eleven years as a member.  The highlights during this time included cycling in three day races which included the Tour of Armagh and Tour of Down, which resulted in me bringing home some silverware!.

I met my wife Peggy when we were both twenty and married six years later, being blessed with our first daughter and our first son. Having young children and considering the unrest in Ireland, Peggy and I made the decision that we should move to Scotland in 1972 where we became the owners of a small pub in Whithorn – The Calcutta Inn. Many happy days were spent behind the bar and we quickly settled in and became locals.  During our time at the Calcutta, we had another son and two more daughters which completed our lovely family.

During my time in Whithorn, I was a founding member of the Machars Lions Club, a very rewarding and hugely successful club that supported many local groups. Having done my bit, I retired from the Lions International Club 31 years later.

In 1986 I became the manager of the first nightclub in Newton Stewart and remained there until retiring twenty years later.  Many a tale I could tell about the antics in the Riverside, but my lips are sealed!

Due to the time difference, my brother living in Australia, phoned regularly after I finished work at the nightclub in the early hours of Sunday morning and after chatting with him in March 2009, my journey with Prostate Cancer began. He told me he had been diagnosed with Prostate Cancer and urged me to go and get a checkup.

With no symptoms or knowledge I was shocked to learn my results, as I too had prostate cancer, with a much higher PSA reading than my brother.  My results showed a Gleason reading of 6, (from a score of one to ten that shows the severity of the cancer within the prostate) the PSA (Prostate Specific Antigen) reading was 19 but thankfully, my bone scan was clear. The cancer was therefore contained within the gland and doctors confirmed it had been detected ‘early’, which I now know means I can be grateful the cancer hadn’t spread. This was known as T2 NO MO.

I was given two options for treatment.  Radiotherapy for 7 ½ weeks or an operation to remove the gland and lymph nodes.  I choose the latter.

Professor Alan McNeill, Consultant Urologist, performed keyhole surgery on me in the Western General Hospital, Edinburgh.  My recovery was slow but successful. After four years of some post operation difficulties (which can happen – but not always) I chose to have an operation to correct it and this was a “game changer” as my life returned to normal and I felt great. After ten years in remission, I know my brother Vince saved my life by calling that night and urging me to go to the doctor. I am now living a full and healthy life, enjoying my eight grandchildren.

Throughout the years my family have been a tremendous strength and support to me. I’m delighted to be a Prostate ‘Buddy’, sharing my story and providing a listening ear for others.

After all, a problem or worry shared is a problem or worry halved.

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