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Ken’s Story

Ken McCubbin – West Group Leader

I am a proud Gallovidian born in the “big winter” of 1947 arriving feet first! An early sign of things to come.

I have an elder sister and younger brother and we were raised on the shore of Luce Bay thriving in the rural countryside. In those distant days we were afforded freedom to play and roam. I have fond memories of exploring the immediate area and this sense of exploration was cemented by the first ascent of Everest in 1953. My Everest was looking over Luce Bay towards the distant Galloway Hills. and my first ascent that summer was on a family picnic to Clatteringshaws when I was allowed to walk up the hill. I went further than I should have claiming my first “mountain”, Benniguinea.

I attended the local Primary School and continued my education in Stranraer High School and although I enjoyed my studies my real love was sport. I was fortunate secondary school provided every opportunity to discover new sports. The “High” was ahead of the times in many ways, particularly organising annual ski trips to the Bernese Oberland of Switzerland. This was my first taste of proper mountains and was hooked.

During my fourth year I met Margaret who became my wife seven years later.

I was lucky to be one of 60 accepted into the Scottish School of Physical Education and trained to be a PE teacher. My specific interest in the outdoors was developed during my student days with trips to different parts of Scotland gaining skills in climbing, mountaineering, kayaking, sailing, skiing plus  whatever else was on offer.

I started teaching in Ayrshire in the brand new Mainholm Academy whose Head Teacher John Pollock was an educational visionary seeing the great outdoors as an opportunity to extend his pupils’ experience.

I was invited to be the first warden of the Corrie Outdoor Centre on Arran but fate intervened when I was offered an exciting position in Ontario, Canada. Muskoka Lakes College was a brand new initiative combining multi year academic programmes and outdoor education. I actually emigrated with the intention of making this my permanent home for Margaret and myself but personal circumstances forced a return to Scotland. During this time we got married and I found a job in the Douglas Ewart High School, Newton Stewart. My intenion was to return to Canada to manage a ski resort, a job a fellow Scot wanted me to take.

Again fate intervened when changes in Scottish secondary education created new posts and within three years I gained two promotions making the decision to remain in Scotland much easier. I remained at the Ewart until early retirement in 2003 and have absolutely no regrets.

I undertook a post graduate diploma in outdoor education in 1973 but rather than pursuing this as a career it allowed me to use my skills in a more focused way outwith the working day as part of the school’s extracurricular activities.

We raised our two sons in Newton Stewart and both of them have followed in their sporting father’s footsteps. Jamie is a solicitor in Edinburgh and Bruce, after various careers, is now a Police Officer just outside Toronto. We are immensely proud of them and between them have given us four beautiful grand-daughters.

Outwith work I have been, and continue to be, involved with local organisations, most in excess of forty years. They include Church, Rotary, Walking Festival and particularly Mountain Rescue. I am still a call out member having served continuously on the committee for almost 45 years, including leader for more than a decade.

I have prided myself in leading a healthy lifestyle so being diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2016 came as a bit of a shock. However, within 24 hours through my brother I was put in touch with Mike Shaw who was the driving force in setting up Edinburgh and Lothian Prostate Cancer Support Group. Mike put me in touch with several Buddies who provided me with an honest appraisal of the treatments offered to me.

When I went to the Western I was armed with informed advice and decided on a prostatectomy which was carried out using robotic surgery on 25 November. All went smoothly and on returning home I gradually set about returning to full fitness and by Easter I was back to my active lifestyle.

However, a hernia repair interrupted my progress. I was not told there is a greater chance of popping a hernia following a prostatectomy, so be warned.

By summer I had fully recovered but a PSA result showed a rise and as the next two had also risen it was back to Edinburgh in December 2017 with the result I was put on salvage treatment, involving hormone injections and a course of 20 radiotherapy sessions in March and April 2018. I had no side effects and as most of my treatments were at 9am I was able to use the time as an extended holiday in the capital.

I am still having three monthly hormone injections which ended in until April 2020 and I have had minimal side effects. PSA is undetectable.

Throughout my Prostate journey I have been supported by both family and health professionals who have all encouraged me to adopt a positive attitude to the future; not difficult as I have always been a “half full” type.

I am delighted to be a Buddy and hopefully be of help to fellow prostate sufferers and their families in future years.

I decided to do something special in 2019 to celebrate life and took part in the Relay for Life in July raising money for Cancer Research UK. I set myself a target of walking 72 kilometres in 24 hours, and completed it in just under 12 hours. I raised in excess of £1000. Running parallel I accepted a challenge of walking 2000 miles in 2019 and completed it in 29 weeks.

There is life after Prostate Cancer.

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