Bill Turnbull: 'I’m not going to let it win' Classic FM star on 'bumpy' cancer journey
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Admitting that he absolutely loves the radio show that he has been doing for more than five years, Turnbull urged listeners not to miss the “most exciting classical music show on the airways” as he returned to the station at the beginning of August 2022. It came after the star announced “with great regret” that he needed to take a leave of absence in order to “focus on getting better” following his “shock” cancer diagnosis a few years prior.

“When you’re diagnosed with prostate cancer it can be a pretty scary moment,” Turnbull explained when talking to leading charity Prostate Cancer UK.

“It was for me. Particularly because it had already spread to my bones and the long-term outlook wasn’t good at all. It was a big shock for me and for my family, and we had some pretty dark times. But luckily, I started treatment very quickly after my diagnosis.”

Following his diagnosis, the former BBC Breakfast presenter created a Channel 4 documentary titled Bill Turnbull: Staying Alive, which followed the journalist through chemotherapy and experimenting with medicinal cannabis.

After nine rounds of chemotherapy, which Turnbull described as “[not] pretty” the star continued to say that his body was getting back to some form of “normal”.

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He shared: “The chemo wasn’t pretty, but was fairly effective. Since then I have felt a lot better as time has gone on. My immune system has improved and my body is more back to ‘normal’.

“I did put on more than a stone in weight due to the steroids I had to take, but that’s all come off again now, thank heaven.

“I’m currently on a more gentle treatment, just a hormone injection every 12 weeks, and another to strengthen the bones. I’ve gone meat and dairy free, and as a result feel pretty good at the moment. I’ve also started doing yoga again regularly – and meditating, which I find particularly useful.”

Along with adopting a healthy lifestyle, Turnbull also mentioned the importance of looking after his mental health. He added: “It’s hugely important to stay positive – that’s part of the treatment really. You can’t let this disease get on top of you because psychology has a lot to do with it.

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Another reason why an individual might not have any symptoms or signs is due to the way the cancer grows. An individual will usually only get early symptoms if the cancer grows near the tube you urinate through (the urethra) and presses against it, changing the way you urinate (wee). But because prostate cancer usually starts to grow in a different part (usually the outer part) of the prostate, early prostate cancer doesn’t often press on the urethra and cause symptoms.

Prostate Cancer UK explains that if you or someone you know does notice changes in the way you urinate, this is more likely to be a sign of a very common non-cancerous problem known as an enlarged prostate, or another health problem.

Possible changes to look out for that still need medical attention include:

  • Difficulty starting to urinate or emptying your bladder
  • A weak flow when you urinate
  • A feeling that your bladder hasn’t emptied properly
  • Dribbling urine after you finish urinating
  • Needing to urinate more often than usual, especially at night
  • A sudden need to urinate – you may sometimes leak urine before you get to the toilet.

In addition to no symptoms, prostate cancer cannot be diagnosed through one singular test. The most commonly used tests for prostate cancer include blood tests, a physical examination of the prostate, an MRI scan and a biopsy.

A common test, known as a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test, measures the level of PSA and may help detect early prostate cancer. However, results can be unreliable as PSA levels can be raised by other non-cancerous conditions.

Once, or if diagnosed, with prostate cancer, depending on an individual’s stage of cancer or type, treatment will be discussed. For example, if the cancer is at an early stage and not causing symptoms, your doctor may suggest either “watchful waiting” or “active surveillance”. For early stage cancers that can be treated, surgery or radiotherapy may also be used.

If, like Turnbull’s case, cancer has spread to other parts of the body and cannot be cured, treatment is focused on prolonging life and relieving symptoms. Treatments can also include surgery or radiotherapy with the addition of chemotherapy to kill cancer cells.

The NHS notes that all treatment options carry the risk of significant side effects, including erectile dysfunction and urinary symptoms, such as needing to use the toilet more urgently or more often. These can be discussed with a medical professional.

Turnbull can be heard on Classic FM every Saturday 10am-1pm.



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