New book dubs 15-year-old ‘hero’ after spectacular cancer charity fundraising effort

By Rafi Benady
January 13 2020, 11.40

A teenage boy has been named in a new book as one of the most heroic young people in the country.

In 2012, Will Kilgannon’s 45-year-old father Brian was diagnosed with prostate cancer.

Three years later, after a fierce struggle with the disease he died, leaving behind a wife and son.

But now the 15-year-old has made something good out of his father’s suffering by raising thousands of pounds for anti-cancer charity, Prostate Cancer UK.

He is being honoured by being included in a new book about teenage heroes as a result of his charitable work.

‘You Can Change the World!’ is London-based author and writer Margaret Rooke’s latest book.

Brian Kilgannon was younger than those typically affected, who tend to be over 50, making it a particularly shocking ordeal for his family.

Will said: “We got hit with this bombshell which we couldn’t really prevent… my dad’s cancer was terminal.”

It includes stories of 50 teenagers who all have the usual adolescent troubles, but who at the same time act selflessly to make the world a better place.

While teens are often associated with poor behaviour, the book highlights the way young people can make a positive contribution to society.

When asked what it was like being approached by Rooke, who saw Will’s blog on the internet, the level-headed youngster said: “It was nice to get publicity for something I was campaigning so heavily for. It was different being approached by an author.”

Brian’s widow, Loretta Kilgannon, expressed her concern over the medical establishment giving average ages for serious illnesses.

She believes if you describe an illness affecting 50 year-olds, it gives men under that age ‘an excuse not to go to the GP and get it checked out’.

Giles Doughty, a 47 year-old prostate cancer survivor from London said: “Prostate cancer is a serious issue for us men. And you know, it’s great to see a boy who’s only 15 raising awareness for it.” 

In the years since his father’s death, Will has engaged in a series of events on behalf of Prostate Cancer UK, to raise awareness for the problem.

He was asked by The Times newspaper to be part of a video campaign for Movember.

His fund-raising page aims to raise £10,000, and he also partook in the March for Men, march with his family club, Millwall on July 22 alongside Sky presenter, Jeff Stelling.

The event started in The Den and finished at Wembley stadium with backing from Millwall Football Club and its manager Neil Harris, who himself survived testicular cancer.

Will said: “If we could convince even one man to get checked and save just one life, we would have done our job.”

The number of deaths per year from prostate cancer has risen to 11,500 in recent years.

Will, who seems to have all the facts about prostate cancer at his finger-tips writes, it affects ‘1 in 8 white men, and this rises to 1 in 4 black men.’

The figures are so high because there is still no single test to diagnose prostate cancer, only a series of tests that a GP can carry out to see if you have prostate problems. They can’t identify the cancer itself.

Typically, the tests are: a urine test, to rule out the possibility of a urine infection, a digital rectal examination (DRA), and a blood-test to identify the level of prostate-specific antigens in the blood.

Another factor contributing to the growth of prostate cancer is that also most men don’t show early symptoms.

However, according to Prostate Cancer UK there are signs to look out for, including erectile issues, needing to urinate more often than usual, a weak flow when you urinate.

Because of the nature of the interventions, there is a stigma attached to getting examined among many men.

But Will said: “When men unite, it shows awareness of health, which definitely reduces the stigma.”

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