Cancer champions sought to raise awareness of symptoms and give advice in community
"IF everyone is a cancer champion then we can all look after each other."
These are the words of a volunteer who helps raise awareness about cancer symptoms after early detection of the disease gave him a second chance.
And you could do the same by becoming a cancer champion with the Cancer Collaborative, just like Mike Collins.
Mr Collins, 61, of Louth Road, Scartho, was diagnosed with kidney cancer in October 2009, after visiting his GP at Scartho Medical Centre for an unrelated problem.
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He was sent for an ultrasound, then a CT scan and diagnosed with cancer when results of the scans revealed a tumour which had been growing on his kidney for four years.
The cancer was still at an early stage and in May 2010, the tumour was removed using cryotherapy – freezing it, which kills cancerous cells in the tumour and surrounding area.
However, the specialist told Mr Collins that it could have continued to grow for a further four years before any symptoms showed.
"By that time, it could have been too late," said Mr Collins.
It was a dark period in his life as he had just been made redundant and in 2010, his wife Jacqueline was also suffering from ill health and underwent a serious operation.
But the experience gave Mr Collins a new perspective.
"I wanted to give someone the same chance that someone gave me.
"I had just been made redundant and it made me realise that there is more to life than your career.
"I am fortunate enough to be in a comfortable financial position and now I want to give something back."
Cancer champions are trained to talk to people within the community and advise them of the symptoms of cancer and where to go if you are worried.
There are various teams that work with specific kinds of cancer and hold regular awareness campaigns – often in line with national drives.
"People have busy lives and think that symptoms can be down to the time of the year, a certain time in their life – there are any number of reasons why they might not seek help.
"The general rule is that if you have had something for more than three weeks, speak to your GP.
"Our service is very informal but the great thing is that anyone can do it. Just look out for your friends, colleagues and family members by telling them if you think they should seek advice."
North East Lincolnshire Cancer Collaborative are always looking for cancer champions.
If you are interested, contact Julie Grimmer, cancer project manager for North East Lincolnshire Care Trust Plus, on 01472 232261.