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Paul Burrell, 64, reveals filming I’m A Celebrity All Stars ‘literally saved my life’

Paul Burrell has admitted that I’m A Celebrity All Stars ‘literally saved my life’ thanks to health tests before heading off to film the show in South Africa which later revealed he had cancer.

Former royal butler Paul, 64, who worked beside and was a confidante of Diana, Princess of Wales, for ten years until her death in 1997, was diagnosed with the horrible illness last summer.

Alongside eight other celebrities, Paul was in Kruger National Park in northeastern South Africa, one of Africa’s largest game reserves to film for the first ever I’m A Celebrity series featuring previous stars of the jungle.

But after coming home to the UK, Paul was handed some heartbreaking news which followed up on some health checks taken before his trip.

Speaking to Lorraine on Monday morning, Paul said he had routine health tests before taking part in the show to give him the all clear, but doctors showed concern about raised prostate-specific antigen levels.

Support: Paul Burrell has admitted that I’m A Celebrity All Stars ‘literally saved my life’ thanks to health tests before heading off to film the show in South Africa which later revealed he had cancer

Candid: Alongside eight other celebrities, Paul was in Kruger National Park in northeastern South Africa, one of Africa’s largest game reserves to film for the first ever I'm A Celebrity series featuring previous stars of the jungle

Candid: Alongside eight other celebrities, Paul was in Kruger National Park in northeastern South Africa, one of Africa’s largest game reserves to film for the first ever I’m A Celebrity series featuring previous stars of the jungle

He spoke to his GP about the results to enquire about his ability to still take part in the show but was told he was fine to wait until returning home to investigate the issue further.

He joked with Lorraine Kelly about the last time he was on the show, admitting it was 20 years prior when he was ‘a lot thinner, a lot younger’ and married with kids.

Paul went on to say: ‘I’m A Celebrity literally saved my life, because I went for the medical, they found a raised PSA level.

‘I went to my GP and I said to him, “Am I still able to do the show?”

‘And he said “Look, this can wait until you get back, and when you get back we’ll continue with the investigations.”

‘So when I got back, then I had an MRI scan, then I had biopsy, then they told me they had cancer.’ 

Paul was the runner-up of the fourth series of I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here! in 2004.

He later said that he is ‘so grateful’ to ITV for picking him to take part in the jungle, and described how he is ’emotional’ but is looking forward to the end of his radio therapy sessions, to which he has five left. 

Throwback: Paul was the runner-up of the fourth series of I'm A Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here! in 2004

Throwback: Paul was the runner-up of the fourth series of I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here! in 2004

Chat: But after coming home to the UK, Paul was handed some heartbreaking news which followed up on some health checks taken before his trip

Chat: But after coming home to the UK, Paul was handed some heartbreaking news which followed up on some health checks taken before his trip

Open: Speaking to Lorraine on Monday morning, Paul said he had routine health tests before taking part in the show to give him the all clear, but doctors showed concern about raised prostate-specific antigen levels

Open: Speaking to Lorraine on Monday morning, Paul said he had routine health tests before taking part in the show to give him the all clear, but doctors showed concern about raised prostate-specific antigen levels

‘I would still be sat here today not knowing I had cancer growing inside of me. So my journey is a happy one,’ Paul gushed.

‘It’s a rollercoaster of emotions and you just don’t know what’s going to happen to you next.

‘And combining that with hormone therapy, which doesn’t help, I get hot sweats and I’m very emotional and very tired, so it’s a tough experience to go through but I’m getting through it.’

Paul then brought viewers along to the hospital as he began his cancer treatment. Seen leaving the home he shares with husband Graham Cooper, Paul said, ‘It’s almost six o’clock in the morning.

‘It’s time for me to go to hospital to have my operation. Coop can’t come with me because of the radiation. And so I’m gonna do this bit by myself.’

Speaking from The Christie Hospital in Manchester, the former Royal butler later added, “I’m really nervous about this. I know it’s like going to the dentist, so it’ll be over very soon, but it’s a life-changing thing that’s happening to me this morning.”

Heartbreaking: He spoke to his GP about the results to enquire about his ability to still take part in the show but was told he was fine to wait until returning home to investigate the issue further

Heartbreaking: He spoke to his GP about the results to enquire about his ability to still take part in the show but was told he was fine to wait until returning home to investigate the issue further

Distraught: He later said that he is 'so grateful' to ITV for picking him to take part in the jungle, and described how he is 'emotional' but is looking forward to the end of his radio therapy sessions, to which he has five left

Distraught: He later said that he is ‘so grateful’ to ITV for picking him to take part in the jungle, and described how he is ’emotional’ but is looking forward to the end of his radio therapy sessions, to which he has five left

After the two-hour procedure, in which he had radium injected into his prostate to shrink his tumor, Paul, 64, admitted, ‘I don’t know what I was worried about because I didn’t feel a thing.’

Viewers then saw Paul having his first radiotherapy treatment at the hospital, using a state-of-the-art cone beam CT scanner that checks the pelvis and then delivers the radiotherapy.

He said afterwards, ‘I’ve just had my treatment, one of 15, and I didn’t feel a thing. It was just like lying on a sunbed.’

Heaping praise on the staff who are caring for him, he added, ‘The team here has been so supportive. They’re incredible. And every time I come here, there’s a warm smile and a welcome which just helps me get through it.’

Paul previously said he is worried he won’t be alive at the end of the year after being diagnosed with prostate cancer last summer.

He said: ‘I’m tired, I’m on hormone therapy, it’s robbing me of my testosterone so my beard isn’t growing as it should, I’m tired, and I’m getting hot flushes.

Confidante: Former royal butler Paul, 64, worked beside and was a confidante of Diana, Princess of Wales, for ten years until her death in 1997 (pictured together in August that year)

Confidante: Former royal butler Paul, 64, worked beside and was a confidante of Diana, Princess of Wales, for ten years until her death in 1997 (pictured together in August that year)

‘I’m on an emotional educational rollercoaster and not knowing where I’m going to be…

‘Thinking “Am I going to be here next year [for Christmas]?” … I told my boys and they said “Dad, we need to spend more time with you”.’

Paul explained he had been for a medical last year and underwent a ‘full MOT’, with a PSA test – which can detect prostate cancer – showing ‘fairly unusual’ levels, prompting his GM to send him for an MRI scan, which showed a shadow on his prostate.

While he feels ‘so tired’, he believes he’s fortunate it was caught early and wants to raise awareness of the disease.

WHAT IS PROSTATE CANCER?

How many people does it kill? 

More than 11,800 men a year – or one every 45 minutes – are killed by the disease in Britain, compared with about 11,400 women dying of breast cancer.

It means prostate cancer is behind only lung and bowel in terms of how many people it kills in Britain. 

In the US, the disease kills 26,000 men each year.

Despite this, it receives less than half the research funding of breast cancer and treatments for the disease are trailing at least a decade behind.

How many men are diagnosed annually?

Every year, upwards of 52,300 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer in the UK – more than 140 every day.   

How quickly does it develop? 

Prostate cancer usually develops slowly, so there may be no signs someone has it for many years, according to the NHS. 

If the cancer is at an early stage and not causing symptoms, a policy of ‘watchful waiting’ or ‘active surveillance’ may be adopted. 

Some patients can be cured if the disease is treated in the early stages.

But if it is diagnosed at a later stage, when it has spread, then it becomes terminal and treatment revolves around relieving symptoms.

Thousands of men are put off seeking a diagnosis because of the known side effects from treatment, including erectile dysfunction.

Tests and treatment

Tests for prostate cancer are haphazard, with accurate tools only just beginning to emerge. 

There is no national prostate screening programme as for years the tests have been too inaccurate.

Doctors struggle to distinguish between aggressive and less serious tumours, making it hard to decide on treatment.

Men over 50 are eligible for a ‘PSA’ blood test which gives doctors a rough idea of whether a patient is at risk.

But it is unreliable. Patients who get a positive result are usually given a biopsy which is also not fool-proof. 

Scientists are unsure as to what causes prostate cancer, but age, obesity and a lack of exercise are known risks. 

Anyone with any concerns can speak to Prostate Cancer UK’s specialist nurses on 0800 074 8383 or visit prostatecanceruk.org

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