Bridgnorth family to be the face of Prostate Cancer UK campaign
The family of a former police inspector from Bridgnorth, who died a year ago of prostate cancer, has been chosen to front a major national cancer appeal.
Bernie McDermott, from Bridgnorth, was 65 when he succumbed to the disease last December.
Now his daughter Hayley and grandson Rory Yarnley have been chosen as the face of the Prostate Cancer UK Christmas appeal.
The campaign is linked to the charity’s pioneering precision medicine research programme, which has the potential to save more than 9,000 men in the UK each year.
From social media to leaflets and posters – the story is plastered across the nation with its main aim to raise awareness of the disease and urge men to get themselves checked.
It also reflects the support for the charity that is shown by people in the town – every year Bridgnorth stages one of the biggest screenings for prostate cancer in the country.
Hayley, 34, who works as a family support worker, said: “By the time my dad was diagnosed, the cancer had already advanced.
“It was in his prostate, the surrounding tissue, his hips, his spine and his ribs.
“There weren’t really any symptoms. He thought it was just a touch of arthritis, but I remember him having this aching hip for three or four years before he was eventually diagnosed.
“He was heartbroken about his diagnosis, and I think it was the first time I felt that I had to be the grown-up.
“I almost turned into the parent because there was the man – the rock, the centre of our little family – poorly.”
Bernie was first diagnosed with prostate cancer just after his 60th birthday.
He was admitted to New Cross Hospital in Wolverhampton at the start of December 2016.
Sadly, the cancer that had been stable for five and a half years had spread.
On December 18, he slipped into a coma and died the next day.
During this difficult time, Hayley – who had just undergone surgery herself – spent as much time as she could supporting him in hospital.
Before he died, Bernie had a particularly close relationship with his grandchildren Rory, five, and Lydia, three.
“He’d check the Prostate Cancer UK website and read the papers and he just knew that the breakthroughs were on the way,” added Hayley.
“He would say ‘They’re on to something now, Hayley! They’re almost there!’, knowing that research would make a difference. ‘There’ll be a cure one day. There’ll be a time when they can stop it. It’s not about me, it won’t happen in my lifetime, but it’s for Rory’.
“My dad would be over the moon about the new research that Prostate Cancer UK is funding. Of course he’d have loved to be here, to be part of the trials and to have that opportunity.”
The family were chosen to front the Christmas appeal after taking part in the charity’s March for Men annual walk. For more information on the campaign go to www.prostatecanceruk.org