A look at Scotland’s only all male cancer support group

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Trusadh – Cancer Club / Balaich a’ Bruidhinn

BBC ALBA – Monday 2 November 9.00 – 10.00pm

It’s the word that many of us still avoid. Cancer. But at the heart of one of Scotland’s most traditional communities, something remarkable is happening.

In a small ‘pre-fab’ building in Stornoway, on the Isle of Lewis, a one-of-a-kind, all-blokes, group is turning stereotype on its head and opening up about cancer.

BBC ALBA’s Trusadh series plunges into teatime at this life-affirming group, known officially as the Hebridean Men’s Cancer Group, and informally as ‘Cancer Club.’

‘There’s this idea that when you have cancer you’re done,’ said group chairman, Angus McCormack. ‘But our group says absolutely no, that’s not the case at all. We are here. We will give you hope. We exist.’

The programme features poignant first-hand accounts of living through cancer including the story o of former Lewis bus-driver and councillor Iain Morrison who shared his final months with the camera.

‘At first I sat there and thought, “why me?”. I felt angry. Then I thought, “Why not me?!’ said Iain.

Iain, who died in July 2015, epitomized the attitude of this one-of-a-kind group, believed to be the the first all male cancer support group in Scotland.

‘People can say what they want about cancer but when someone tells you they have it – that’s when it really hits you….You’ve just got to brush yourself down and carry on…’

Don MacLean, a retired Outdoor Education teacher, has just been made group secretary. He’s busier than he has ever been. But a year ago his life was on the line.

‘I didn’t really want this post as secretary but, sadly, our last secretary died, sadly. But it’s a good laugh. Its good fun.’

The group, which now has over 90 members, has lost three secretaries in the last year.

‘We know that death is around the corner. We aren’t silly about it,’ said Angus McCormack, ‘but we don’t want to dwell on it either, in a kind of negative kind of way…’

Produced for BBC ALBA by mactv, Trusadh - Cancer Club is a moving, and inspiring story of unexpected brotherhood amongst Lewis men.