I knew I had to do something. After all, I had the bad fortune
to be diagnosed with prostate cancer but the very good fortune to
be living at a time when early diagnosis is possible (to those
lucky enough to have diligent GPs or annual health checks anyway)
and that the range of treatments are efficacious. I was lucky. So
what could I do?
I had taken early retirement (nothing to do with prostate
cancer) and with my wife had made the long distance journeys that
we had always promised ourselves, converted two bathrooms, spent
more time with friends and family etc. However I felt that I also
had an obligation to ensure, in whatever small way I was able to,
that prostate cancer sufferers and potential sufferers were granted
their entitlement to better treatment and care.
How to do it? Well, I had heard of The Prostate Cancer Charity
(now Prostate Cancer UK), so that seemed an obvious place to start.
I have never been involved with charitable organisations before but
their web site is a terrific source of information and I thought
there might be something I could contribute. As it happened there
was a "Day of Action" planned within the following couple of months
which was intended to gain the support of Members of Parliament for
the "Quality Care. Everywhere" project. That appealed to me as
greater awareness is my personal hobby horse and the opportunity to
take the message to our representatives in Parliament was
I was invited to participate in the event and the first task was
to write to my MP inviting him to attend the Drop-in session at the
House of Commons arranged for lunchtime on 14 March. There
would be a training day in London on 13 March which would also be a
chance to meet fellow campaigners. The first part did not go well.
The response to my written approach to my local MP, who happens to
be a Government Minister, gave faint hope that he would attend and
so it proved. On the other hand the training day was excellent.
Most of those attending were seasoned campaigners and had knowledge
and experience which I did not. However, in meeting those people,
women as well as men, I learned how much time and energy supporters
actively devote to the work of the charity. They were also good
I really enjoyed the actual Day of Action. I had been to the
House on a couple of previous occasions but it never fails to
impress. We had a good number of MPs visit the Drop-in and I did
manage to have a session with Graham Evans MP explaining the key
messages and getting my photograph taken with him. I'm sure he
So, this year when I received a note from Lizzie Flew, Supporter
Campaigning Officer at Prostate Cancer UK, asking if I was up for
this year's Day
of Action, I was only too pleased to join in. The format was
different and included workshops alongside the meetings with MPs.
Another change, now as a seasoned campaigner, was that I was paired
with another supporter, Robin Porter, to achieve a different kind
of approach to the meetings. Our opinion afterwards was that it had
definitely worked for us in our two MP interviews. We got on very
well together personally and our different styles seemed
complementary to good effect, borne out by the fact that we heard
afterwards that Mark Field MP, one of our interviewees, had written
to his CCG urging the adoption of the Quality Checklist.
Overall, I feel these Days of Action have been seen to be very
worthwhile which proves to me that if commitment and enthusiasm
count for anything, they were bound to be successful.