MEN chief reporter Neal Keeling writes of cancer fight

Manchester Evening News chief reporter Neal Keeling has written movingly about his “determination to keep going” after having a cancerous tumour removed along with his left kidney.

Keeling, who has spent 25 years at the MEN, described in a piece for the paper being told that the tumour was the most aggressive type there is.

“The irony was not lost on me. I have survived at the Manchester Evening News for 25 years on 90 per cent relentless aggression and 10 per cent talent when it comes to story hunting.”

He wrote that the experience of fighting cancer has awakened a “a long dormant part of me”.

“During 30 years as a journalist in Bury, Bolton, Salford and Manchester I have turned from a green, naive, dizzy young buck into at times a cynical, mistrusting, battle-scarred brute.

“Dealing with the worst of human behaviour on a daily basis while covering crime leaves a mark. When a positive story crossed my desk it was like the warmth of the summer sun piercing my armour.

“Like the Manchester cop who gave his crucifix to a 76-year-old stabbing victim as she lay bewildered, hurt, and terrified. Now the vicious tumour has triggered in me an almost evangelical new faith in the human race.”

He said that prayers have been said for him at the Methodist church in Walsall where he grew up and at a mosque in Bolton.

As well as support from his family, he paid tribute to colleagues at the MEN: “the family that possesses my soul…Support flowed from the fearless, talented ‘kids’ of the newsroom willing me to pull through. Their backing turned the new Bruce Springsteen song ‘We Take Care of Our Own’ into an anthem of hope for me.”

Signing off his piece he wrote: “As well as my son I have two daughters, Grace, 22, and Anna, seven. All three are blessed with their mother’s good looks, which should make no difference but actually amplifies the turmoil inside me when I look at them. But it also fuels a determination to keep going and put my faith in the wonderful National Health Service which is giving me a chance to survive.”

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