Larbert’s Tom pairs up with Sir Alex for cancer campaign

Tom Hart has twice fought back from a lung cancer diagnosis and is now urging others to make sure they get it checked out if they have any symptoms
Tom Hart has twice fought back from a lung cancer diagnosis and is now urging others to make sure they get it checked out if they have any symptoms

A health worker has teamed up with a football legend to help increase the early detection of lung cancer to give people ‘extra time’.

Tom Hart of Larbert has joined with former Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson to raise awareness of the signs of the condition.

Both have been affected by lung cancer – Tom (59) has twice battled back after being diagnosed, while Sir Alex lost both parents to the disease.

A new campaign has been launched to raise awareness, part of the Scottish Government’s £30 million Detect Cancer Early plan, which is initially focusing on breast, bowel and lung cancer, and aims to increase the early detection of cancer by 25 per cent by the end of 2015.

Tom, a former charge nurse, is NHS Forth Valley’s employee director. In 2011, he waited five weeks before going to his GP about a persistent cough.

He said: “My daughter Emma was getting married then my wife and I were going on holiday. I didn’t want to put a spanner in the works but when I did get it checked out was told that surgery wasn’t an option because of where the tumour was located.

“Instead I was given 12 days of intensive radiation and after a period of recovery was able to return to work.”

However, in April this year when he couldn’t get rid of a cough, he didn’t hesitate before going to his GP. This time he did have surgery and has made a full recovery, returning to work last month.

Tom added: “It’s important that people get checked if they have any of the symptoms. Hopefully it won’t be cancer but, if it is, the sooner treatment begins the better.”

Launching the campaign, Sir Alex Ferguson said: “I know the devastating impact cancer can have on families. But cancer’s not what it used to be and there are now treatments that can save or extend your life. So rather than do nothing about it, I urge anyone who is worried to get checked as early as they can.”

Dr James Cant, head of the British Lung Foundation in Scotland, said: “Lung cancer is a disease which can develop slowly over a number of years. Often it causes no pain so it’s important to be aware of other warning signs and act quickly to have them checked. A persistent cough or coughing up blood could be symptoms of lung cancer or another lung condition, but whatever you do, don’t ignore them.”