Brookie’s Dean Sullivan talks prostate cancer

The actor is best known for his long-running role as Jimmy Corkhill in the Channel 4 soap Brookside.

Dean Sullivan as Jimmy Corkhill in Channel 4’s Brookside.

“I’d noticed when I was going to the loo that my stream wasn’t as strong as it used to be. I used to joke I would be able to pee over a wall it was so strong… I never imagined it was something to do with my prostate though because I didn’t have any of the other symptoms, such as going to the toilet several times in the night.” – Dean speaking to The Mirror

Speaking to The Mirror the 64-year-old performer spoke candidly about his prostate cancer diagnosis and treatment. He first noticed in March 2018 that his ‘wee stream’ wasn’t as strong as it once was, but didn’t initially think it was serious. A visit to his local GP also saw a diagnosis that they ‘didn’t think there was anything to investigate.’ Dean added ‘But doctors aren’t always right so we shouldn’t be embarrassed to go back’.

Two months later the Liverpool-born actor returned to his local surgery as things hadn’t improved. ‘It is a bit like when you can feel you’re getting a cold.’ Sullivan is quoted by the tabloid, adding, ‘Everyone knows their own body, so when there is something not sitting right, you just know.’ It was his persistence that something was wrong that lead to the cancer discovery.

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“The second time I went I saw my own GP and he gave me a digital rectal examination there and then. That was a little bit uncomfortable, a little bit undignified, but it was all over and done within less than 30 seconds.” – Dean speaking to The Mirror

Following a rectal examination which revealed Dean’s prostate was enlarged further blood-tests were carried out. The Mirror reports how this lead to the discovery ‘his prostate-specific antigen level was raised – which can be a sign of prostate cancer – and he was referred for a biopsy.’ The results returned a prostate cancer diagnosis.

Sullivan a graduate of Lancaster University and a former primary school teacher prior to acting underwent an MRI scan to discover whether cancer had spread to Dean’s bones, thankfully it hadn’t. On New Years Eve 2018 Dean underwent HDR brachytherapy to treat the disease at Clatterbridge Hospital on The Wirral. The process involves having thin tubes inserted into the prostate gland before targeted radiation is radiated down the rods to kill cancer cells.

Dean’s brachytherapy was followed by 20 rounds of radiotherapy last January, given five times a week over four weeks the newspaper reports.

“I remember being a bit shell shocked really because even though we know these days that one in three of us will be diagnosed with cancer of some sort, you never think it will be you… I cannot praise the staff enough, they were lovely. The process wasn’t uncomfortable, painful or distressing. It made me tired but it was one of those things I knew I had to go through for a few weeks and it was done in no time.” – Dean speaking to The Mirror

It was February 1986 when Dean first appeared as Jimmy Corkhill in Channel 4’s Brookside, the wayward troublesome brother of much more respectable Billy Corkhill (actor John McArdle) Jimmy would become part of many of the major storylines in the cul-de-sac set saga and was the last character seen on the Merseyside based production when it ended in 2003. As well as acting Dean has also after soap opera directed theatre productions and has hosted a long-running radio programme in the North West.

In April 2019 Dean learned his treatment had been a success, ten weeks after his final radiotherapy treatment while in October his consultant gave him the cancer all-clear.

“The treatment is so excellent but you have to get it early, It’s important to act if you think there might be something not right, especially if you’re a man of a certain age.” – Dean speaking to The Mirror