PJ Campbell: 'Please act before it's too late'
FOLLOWING his diagnosis with stage four prostate cancer, PJ Campbell would advise every man he met to get their ‘PSA’ checked.
”It’s only a simple blood test,” he would tell them.
If caught early, the five-year survival rate for prostate cancer exceeds 99 per cent.
If you’re between 55-69, on your birthday each year think PSA (prostate-specific antigen). Be wise to diabetes and other illnesses that may mask the symptoms and please get checked.
It is not routinely screened for – you will have to ask for it to be done – but please do insist on it. It could be the difference between life and death.
As a family, we are struggling to see the positives when our hearts are so filled with sadness but we could think of nothing better than carrying on PJ’s message in the hope that someone who may need to see this acts on it before it’s too late.
From a life that was spent making people smile, it would be a fabulous outcome to save someone else from this harrowing journey.
Born in Scotch Street in Dungannon, PJ (Patrick John) was the youngest child of Patrick and Winifred Campbell and brother to Mary, Geraldine and Martin.
He went to St Patrick’s Academy and joined the civil service, working in Belfast, Armagh and Craigavon, latterly in the planning department.
He first met Jackie Quinn when he gave her a lift home from a dance at the Glenavon Hotel in Cookstown. She was 16 and he was 25.
They met up again the following year and he said he would marry her when she was 21.
When PJ died they had been happily married in Stewartstown for nearly 40 years and had three children, Jonny, Tina and Filly.
PJ had a burning passion for photography and he became a popular wedding photographer. Known in the business as ‘the man with the hat’, what began as just a hobby became a job.
In later life he spent his free time gardening and perfecting the family home. This is where he was happiest, with a power tool in hand, tinkering at something or scheming his next big project.
Unfortunately in February 2019, PJ was delivered the dreaded diagnosis that he had advanced prostate cancer.
Whilst understandably shaken and lost initially, he searched within and found the courage to smile and fight his battle bravely, each and every day, until his last.
He fought this disease with help from his unwavering faith coupled with his positive outlook on life.
In March 2021, he was diagnosed with the rare and more aggressive small cell cancer. Yet he still never wavered and his sense of humour never left him.
PJ was a great husband, father and role model. He never wakened with a long face and he appreciated every day right up until the end.
On January 15 this year, PJ Campbell breathed his last breath, at home surrounded by his loving family. He was 69.
His funeral took place in St Mary’s Church, Stewartstown, where Fr Eugene O’Neill described how he had “brought joy to the world”
“He never bowed down to pity for himself but lived every day with a smile and that is the way to live,” he told mourners.
“Raise your head. Smile like he did. Love like he would want you to, help as he has shown you, and live the rest of your life with a little bit of him in everything that you do, because when we do that, he will never be forgotten.”
:: Around one in six men will get prostate cancer. For more information and to check your risk, see prostatecanceruk.org.