A grandfather who was told he had just two years to live nine years ago has paid tribute to the team at Guy’s and St Thomas’ caring for him.
Gary Hooker, 65, from Grove Park, was diagnosed with stage four prostate cancer in 2011.
But almost 10 years later, thanks to joining a “life-changing” clinical trial at Guy’s and St Thomas’, Gary has shown he is a true survivor and has become an inspiration to others with prostate cancer.
He now takes part in countless events around the world to share his story.
He also competed in the first ever Oncology Games in 2018 and won two bronze medals, raising money for Guy’s and St Thomas’.
Gary said he was eternally grateful to the team at Guy’s.
He said: “If it wasn’t for them I wouldn’t be here. There’s nothing better I can say than that. They’ve got me through so much over the years, including more recently providing so much support when I was shielding at home due to coronavirus.
“They call to see how I am and if there is anything I need, and I know if I have issues I can pick up the phone. They are unbelievable, like a second family.”
Gary was diagnosed with cancer in January 2011 after having a routine chest X-ray for a chest infection.
He was shocked to be told he had suspected secondary cancer in his lungs, and was later diagnosed with prostate cancer which had spread to his bones.
He said: “I can still remember the feeling of devastation sitting on my bed and I had to phone my wife Jackie and tell her the news.
“But the next day the team at Guy’s informed me that there were lots of treatments available including hormone therapy, radiotherapy, chemotherapy and clinical trials.”
At the end of 2011 he was told about the international PREVAIL trial, which Guy’s and St Thomas’ was participating in.
It measures the success of a drug called enzalutamide, which works by blocking testosterone which feeds the cancer, against a placebo.
Gary said: “I decided to sign up and that turned out to be the greatest decision of my life – I’m still on the drug now.
“My health and energy improved and my cancer became stable. It’s meant I can look forward to life and make plans.
“I never thought I’d live to meet my three grandsons, who I adore. They keep me going, along with my wife, who has been my rock, and my four children who are so proud and supportive of me.
“I like to share my positive attitude with other men. I was diagnosed at stage four and the cancer had spread, but I like to go out and say it’s not the end of my life. I live with cancer and I respect my cancer. As long as I can get along with it, I won’t let it spoil my future for as long as I can.”
To highlight the work Gary has done, staff from Guy’s and St Thomas’ nominated him for two WEGO Health Awards in the healthcare collaborator and patient leader hero categories.
He was also nominated by other people in three additional categories – lifetime achievement, best in show: Twitter, and advocating for another.
While he wasn’t a finalist, Gary, a former school premises manager, said: “I’m completely honoured to have been nominated for the awards.”
Pictured top: Gary Hooker with his youngest grandson, Tommy
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