AN ALVA man who was diagnosed with kidney cancer in 2017 is urging anyone who may be worried about a symptom to get checked immediately.

Paul Dornan, 59, noticed some blood in his urine in March 2017. With a history of kidney stones, he assumed the symptom may be related and visited his GP upon persuasion from his wife Angela.

A urine sample found small, invisible traces of blood and Paul was sent for an ultrasound, which revealed a 10cm, tennis ball-sized tumour on his kidney. He was immediately booked in for surgery to remove the tumour and, after a follow-up scan at the end of August, he travelled to Spain with Angela.

While on holiday, Paul’s surgeon called and asked him to meet as soon as he got home, and when he eventually returned, Paul was told his post-op scan showed a number of metastases in various locations and that his cancer was stage 4.

Now, almost three years after the initial GP visit, Paul, as part of Kidney Cancer Awareness Week, is urging anyone who thinks something may be wrong to go and get checked.

He said: “A doctor would rather send you home with a false alarm than send you to the hospital for something serious.

“Get anything checked, most people are diagnosed with kidney cancer by accident, early diagnosis really is key.”

Paul was put on an immunotherapy drug clinical trial back in 2017, one of the new therapies coming forward to fight cancer.

“A doctor explained to me that cancers in effect have an invisibility cloak on them which your immune system can’t see,” he said.

“These immunotherapy drugs break that cloak down and then go to work to start fighting it.

“I was put on a two-year trial which by and large was a success: my cancer progressed but not as fast as it was, slowing down significantly, and all the side effects were manageable, including, strangely, a lack of saliva.”

The trial ended in October 2019 and Paul was expecting to go onto another form of treatment, but as he was coping so well, it was decided he wouldn’t continue on any treatment.

Another scan was scheduled for yesterday to show what is going on inside Paul’s body, however on the outside Paul is feeling great.

He said: “I’m coping really well and feel very fortunate and blessed to live a normal life.

“I’m under no illusion that kidney cancer is not curable; one day it’s likely it will decide to run riot, but until then I’m having a great time, working part-time, and I’m thanking my lucky stars.

“If you said to me years ago when this kicked off back in 2017, that I’d be sitting here having a conversation with anybody feeling as good as I do, I’d have bitten your arm off.

“It’s a bit of a cliché when people say a positive mental attitude can make a real difference, but now I completely understand that."

Fortunately, Paul has a very supporting family behind him, including a new addition who arrived on a very special day.

Back in 2017 on the day Paul got home from the hospital after surgery to remove his kidney, one of his sons told him he would soon be a grandad for the first time.

Thomas, Paul’s two-year-old grandson, was born seven months later, on Paul’s birthday.

He said: “Getting told you have cancer, getting your kidney out, getting home from the hospital, being told you’re going to be a grandad for the first time and then him being born on your birthday seven months was very emotional.”

Not only will this year see the family celebrate Thomas’ third birthday, it will also be Paul’s 60th, and although he’s unsure of the arrangements, he’s sure his wife Angela will have big plans.

Until then, for Paul and his whole family, it’s all about staying positive.

He added: “Talking about the power of a positive mental attitude, one of my key mantras is: I have cancer, cancer doesn’t have me.

“If I wanted to think about it deeply, I’d be in a dark room with my head in my hands. I can either do that or live my life the best I can.

“If I post on Facebook or speak to a newspaper and one person gets an early diagnosis of anything that’s wrong with them then it’s all worthwhile."

Paul was speaking to the Advertiser as part of Kidney Cancer Awareness Week, which ran from February 3-7.

Last year, he walked from coast to coast in Scotland with his brother for Kidney Cancer Scotland and raised £4,000.

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