"My dad was diagnosed with prostate cancer two
years ago when he was 61. He had problems peeing but kept putting
off going to see a doctor because he was embarrassed.
"Eventually, when this was having an impact on his work, he did
to the doctor and after a series of tests was diagnosed with
prostate cancer. However, he found all the examinations and
biopsies so embarrassing that this made him reluctant to have
was such a difficult time. He'd always been the man who looked
after me, fixed things when they were broken, and I think he felt a
bit of a failure. My granddad had had prostate cancer too and died
of the disease so Dad saw a cancer diagnosis as a death
"Around this time I also discovered a couple of my former
colleagues had been diagnosed with prostate cancer, hadn't done
anything about it until too late and had both died. My daughters
were only six and 16 at the time. They weren't ready to lose their
granddad, I wasn't ready to lose my dad and my mum wasn't ready to
lose her husband. We made him see past the embarrassment and get
"He had seven weeks of radiotherapy, which I took him to every
single day. Now two years later he's clear of the cancer and we
value every second we have together.
"These days my dad talks freely about prostate cancer, makes
light of it in fact. He's taken early retirement and gained a
new perspective on life. He does all he can to really enjoy the
time he has. It can be difficult sometimes. When he gets poorly he
can think: 'Is my cancer coming back?' But he's stronger and back
to being the man I remember.
"Because of this I really wanted to help other men like my dad.
I work at the train operating company First Capital Connect and
have lots of male colleagues so I decided to a run a wellness
campaign - not just on prostate cancer but diabetes and stroke
prevention too. The company jumped at the suggestion because
it fits in really well with our corporate values of being
supportive of one another.
"Our first trial took place at head office. Hundreds of men got
involved and it was a huge success. Now these are taking place
across the country and managers are actually requesting them.
Through the wellness days, I started working with Prostate Cancer
UK. Since then our Managing Director, Neal Lawson, has taken part
in fundraising for the charity in their Nutcracker Suite and raised over £1,000. We
held a coffee morning for this, put it on our website and even told
our passengers about it. Neal has now opened some of our wellness
days and prostate cancer is talked about openly.
"We want to keep this momentum up so we'll have a team of
employee champions encouraging people here to do Movember. We're
also promoting more wellness days with 16 planned for this year and
we reckon over 1,200 people will potentially visit them. In my
mind, if just one person listens that could help one more man see
past his embarrassment and that could save his life. It could make
all the difference."