A 64-YEAR-old Maze man who lost a lung to cancer is urging local people who have suffered in the same way to join him in attending a new centre on the York Road that helps people affected by lung cancer.
A one time 30-a-day smoker, Isaac Keery from Gravelhill Road said the Grove Wellbeing Centre based on the York Road, established with the help of Macmillan Cancer Support, the Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation and Northern Ireland Cancer Network five months ago, has been a great support to him.
He said: "As a man, it is sometimes difficult to talk about how you're feeling but sometimes it's helpful to open up which is why this group is so helpful. It's a really friendly relaxed group so people shouldn't be worried about coming along. We speak to one another and there are people who come along and give talks which are really helpful. But it's also useful because you can talk to the experts there on a one-to-one basis if you want to. The group has helped me in so many ways. There are talks from professional bodies, doctors, carers, social workers, radiographers and if you are worried about something they are there to help. There are times when you are down about things but this new centre is great for any problems that you have and the people there will help you in any way that they can."
The success of group is being highlighted during November - Lung Cancer Awareness Month. It is run by a team of two social workers and a Marie Curie nurse consultant in palliative care and is attended by patients from throughout the Greater Belfast area. It was established following a patient survey conducted by NICaN and through research, facilitated by lung cancer nurses, which showed the majority of patients questioned would like to attend a support group.
Isaac, a smoker from the age of 14, had his lung removed two years ago after being diagnosed with cancer. The former fit roofer had been playing with his grandchild when he started to have chest pains. At first he thought it was indigestion and as he got worse feared he was taking a heart attack.
He went to his GP and then to the Lagan Valley where they checked his heart and lungs. He was transferred to the Royal Victoria Hospital where his lung was removed before undergoing courses of chemotherapy.
Traces of asbestosis was found in his lung, but Isaac believes that his smoking habit not only robbed him of his health but his business too.
"Smoking could claim your life. I should know," he said. "Before I took ill, I could go up and down ladders, I had a great business and jab and was so fit and healthy. I even had a six pack and now look at me."
The Belfast Information and Support Group meet on the third Tuesday of every month at the Grove Wellbeing Centre on York Road at 2pm. More information is available about the Grove Wellbeing Centre group is available by contacting Lesley Rutherford on 90 329 241.