Limavady man’s cancer journey leads to charity fundraising drive

Ken Lowry receiving a cheque from Charlie Kelpie with referees from Northern Ireland, The Republic of Ireland, Scotland and England who are refereeing in this year's Foyle Cup. Photo: Gerry Morrison
Ken Lowry receiving a cheque from Charlie Kelpie with referees from Northern Ireland, The Republic of Ireland, Scotland and England who are refereeing in this year's Foyle Cup. Photo: Gerry Morrison

Ken Lowry lives life at a much slower pace these days, but the 58-year-old is more than happy with that.

The well known Limavady man has come through a rare form of cancer and says, overall, he’s doing extremely well these days.

Ken with Mark Halsey, ex-English Premier League referee handing over one of his jerseys at a function in Derry last November.

Ken with Mark Halsey, ex-English Premier League referee handing over one of his jerseys at a function in Derry last November.

Ken was diagnosed with Pseudomyxoma Peritonei (PMP) in January 2014.

The rare cancer starts in the appendix (primary) and, in Ken’s case, spread inside the peritoneum, the layer of tissue that lines the abdomen, and affects the major organs.

“This rare cancer is so difficult to detect. In my case the consultant informed me that I probably had the cancer for around seven years. I had no side effects. It was only when I had some pain in the right hand side of my abdomen was this bombshell finally dropped,” says Ken.

Two months after his diagnosis, Ken attended Basingstoke in England, one of two specialised treatment centres in the UK that deal with PMP.

When I was first diagnosed I contacted Macmillan for advice and guidance, and they were absolutely fantastic

Ken Lowry

“I met the consultant and, after review, he told me that I was a suitable candidate for treatment,” said Ken. “He explained in great detail what would be involved; a 10-hour operation and a three-week stay in hospital. I was feeling frightened, however, I wanted to get it done as soon as possible.”

Scheduled for surgery on May 13, 2014, Ken underwent the major treatment which aims to remove the cancer and to cure the PMP.

More than two years on, and Ken says life is good.

Ken and his wife Clare, have since celebrated with family the first of their three children to get married (Stephen), their son’s engagement (Philip); and have become proud grandparents for the first time.

So appreciative of the help he received from Macmillan Cancer Support after he received his bombshell diagnosis, Ken wants to repay the charity for their support and reassurance on his cancer journey.

“When I was first diagnosed I contacted Macmillan for advice and guidance, and they were absolutely fantastic,” says Ken.

“They were very reassuring and had regular follow-ups to see how I was doing, offering tips and advice all the way during the cancer journey.”

Ken is now on a fundraising journey for Macmillan Cancer Support, and Cancer Research UK, and is planning to hold a coffee morning in coming weeks to raise money for both charities.

“I believe some money would help research and development into early detection of rare forms of cancer,” he says.

With football a huge part of his life - including that of his two sons Stephen, who plays for Linfield; and Philip who plays for Crusaders FC - Ken has been fortunate to have the support of colleagues - on and off the football pitch - with fundraising.

“I’d been a member of the North West Referees Association for 15 years and, although I had retired, I still kept in touch with the Association,” he says.

“The Association members were very supportive of me and my family during my illness. I was invited to a seminar last November in the Foyle Arena were Ex Premier League Referee Mark Halsey was in attendance. Mark had been on a cancer journey as well he was diagnosed with throat cancer in 2009. Thankfully he has made a fully recovery and he now enjoys a new role as a successful pundit on television and radio.

“Mark kindly handed over one of his Premier League referees jersey to me so that I could raise money for my chosen charities. The referees at the Foyle Cup will make a donation to my chosen charities and, in return, I will hand over the Mark Halsey shirt to be raffled.”

Ken wants to thank all those who have supported so far on his fundraising journey, including North West Referees, Michael Hutton Foyle Cup Chairman; Foyle Cup Referees; Mark Halsey and his work colleagues at Invista, Maydown.

Macmillan Cancer Support offer support right from the moment of diagnosis, through treatment and beyond. In 2015, Macmillan says they reached and supported 5.8 million people affected by cancer. The organisation says there are a number of ways people can become involved.

Cancer Research UK say they have saved millions of lives by discovering new ways to prevent, diagnose and treat cancer. For information visit macmillan.org.uk or cancerresearchuk.org