One of the first people to join our Cancer Alliance community/patient panel is Ronnie Gelder.

Ronnie, who lives in the Odsal area of Bradford, was diagnosed with prostate cancer in July 2016.

“Right from the beginning, I have always felt that I wanted to get involved, to share my extremely positive experiences of care and treatment, and also to help others who may be going through the same thing,” he said. “I know that the quality of cancer care across our area does vary, and it’s important to get involved and help to ensure that we put that right.”

Ronnie visited his doctor in February 2016 with shoulder pain which had started after a long car journey. Some five weeks later, despite treatment with medication, the pain was still there and due to his age – Ronnie was 69 at the time - he was referred for a blood test which revealed a high PSA level of 8.

The PSA test is a blood test that measures levels of prostate specific antigen (PSA) – a protein produced by normal cells in the prostate and also by prostate cancer cells. Higher than expected levels may suggest prostate problems, but not necessarily cancer.

Ronnie’s age placed him as potentially high risk of prostate cancer so he was quickly referred for physical examinations, bone and ultrasound scans and following the confirmed diagnosis, underwent a prostatectomy followed by radiotherapy at St James’ Hospital in Leeds.

He is currently participating in a clinical trial comparing early and deferred access to radiotherapy. Using a computerised random allocation system, men are placed into two groups- half will receive radiotherapy three to six months after surgery, and the others (the deferred group) only if their PSA level starts to rise.

The study - organised by the Medical Research Council and funded by Cancer Research UK – involves men from the UK, Canada, Denmark and Ireland. It is expected to last around 12 years before results are published.

Ronnie, who worked at Bradford University for around 20 years, is now keeping well and enjoying retirement with his wife, Ann, though the couple are still busy as they are now part-time exam invigilators at the university.