When former primary school teacher Dennis Kell suffered repeated bouts of “man flu”, he never for one moment thought it would lead to a diagnosis which may well have saved his life.

For it was only when a nurse at his GP surgery sent him for exploratory blood tests that Dennis discovered his prostate-specific antigen (PSA) levels were raised, prompting further investigations which resulted in a cancer diagnosis.

After being given a choice of treatments, he turned to Ipswich Hospital’s Cancer Wellbeing and Information Centre for advice – and is hugely grateful for the support they have given him ever since.

The 68-year-old is now sharing his story to help thank the centre’s staff while raising awareness of Colchester & Ipswich Hospitals Charity’s Cancer Wellbeing Fund, which helps pay for the support it provides.

The difference the centre makes to people is so enormous”

“I had always been so active and love walking, cycling, sailing and wildlife, so when I was diagnosed I had to think carefully about my treatment choices so that I would be able to continue doing the things I enjoyed afterwards,” said Dennis.

“I tried to get as much information as I could and spoke to people from the local prostate cancer support group and visited the information centre. The staff were incredibly helpful and gave me lots of leaflets to help me make the choice. They also mentioned that they were starting men’s pelvic floor exercise classes and I ended up joining one of the very first groups, which made such a difference to me.

“I went onto do other exercise classes to help with my recovery and within four months of my surgery, I was able to cycle 100km again which was fantastic.”

The centre also arranged for Dennis to complete a HOPE (Help to Overcome Problems Effectively) course, which supports adults living beyond cancer to cope emotionally, psychologically and practically. The sessions had such a big impact on him that he has now trained as a facilitator so that he can deliver courses to others. 

“I’ve had some really great support from the centre and now volunteer with them whenever I can,” added Dennis, who lives just outside Ipswich with wife Anne. “The work they do is so important and I am really pleased to have the opportunity to do a little to give back. Having seen people drop in, I understand just how difficult the impact of cancer can be, and how it can affect people in so many different ways. I’ve also seen how just a little bit of help or direction at the right time can be incredibly useful.

“I fully support Colchester & Ipswich Hospitals Charity’s appeal as the difference the centre makes to people is so enormous. It would be lovely to have the resources to offer that level of support to even more people in the future.”