My chosen charity for the Jellybean 12 days of giving initiative is Prostate Cancer UK. It is a cause which means a lot to me as my dad was recently diagnosed with prostate cancer. After having an operation to remove his prostate he is doing well, and I am so thankful for the excellent NHS staff who have helped him to make a positive recovery and deal with the after effects of his surgery in the middle of a pandemic. The whole experience has taught me to value every day you have with your loved ones as you don’t know what’s around the corner (oh and don’t sweat the small stuff!)
But the larger issue I would like to highlight is that I believe lots more needs to be done to raise awareness of prostate cancer, as has been done with women’s cancers particularly breast and cervical cancer. Men tend to have a habit of keeping things in and not speaking about their issues and bodies in the same way that women have learnt to be proud of doing, embracing their womanhood together. One man dies every 45 minutes from prostate cancer. It already kills more people than breast cancer and by 2030 it’s predicted to be the most common cancer in the UK. These are worrying figures and it shocked me at how prevalent prostate cancer is, yet I knew so little about it when my own dad was diagnosed.
This is one of the main aims of Prostate Cancer UK, having produced awareness campaigns with celebrities from the likes of Stephen Fry and Nile Rodgers, who have shared their experiences and encouraged other men to ask for a test. It is important to note that unlike breast cancer, you can’t check yourself and there’s unfortunately no national screening program to help detect early-stage prostate cancer. My dad, who is 56, didn’t have any symptoms of prostate cancer at all, but in his words ‘something just told me I needed to get a test’ so he pushed for a blood test at his GP surgery. I am so very thankful that he did this, as the cancer was in a position to begin spreading elsewhere. It is clear from these statistics and the lack of routine screening programs that prostate cancer hasn’t had the attention or resources that some other cancers have. That is why we need to act now and make a change.
We need to work with charities and organisations like Prostate Cancer UK who invest millions to fund life-saving research to find better treatments and tests that can spot fast-growing cancers early. They also provide crucial information on prostate cancer to help increase understanding of its risk, details on treatment options and support services for those who have been diagnosed.
With these statistics in mind, please encourage your male loved ones, friends, relatives, and colleagues (especially if they are over 45) to get checked for prostate cancer, it’s a simple PSA blood test and is even more important now, especially with the pandemic having delayed or prevented crucial cancer testing. To help find men at risk of prostate cancer and in response to the effect the pandemic has had on cancer testing, Prostate Cancer UK have created this thirty-second risk checker. Please share it with those who might find it useful and of course, if you’d like to support Prostate Cancer UK you can make a donation here and show that men, we are with you.