Prostate cancer and how you can help kick it

Once a year or so I get roped into doing some charity thing or other because it seems like a good idea at the time. Last year I did 100 pushups a day for a month in aid of Cancer Research UK. This year, I somehow thought it wouldn’t be that hard to run a marathon over the course of a month (26 miles in 31 days? Pah!) for Prostate Cancer UK.

Thing is, I hate running. I used to be good at it, but I also used to be 23 years old. At that time I could run a 3 mile circuit and get home again before the bath was filled. I’m now more than twice that age and break into a sweat tying my trainers up.

I trialled a little run around the park by my house and it clocks in at 1.18, 1.19 or 1.20 miles depending on what mood my phone’s GPS is in. Either way, just about manageable for an old fart who can sprain a muscle if he doesn’t warm up before playing on the Xbox. The only downside is that there are no streetlights anywhere in the park, and it’s winter, which means I have limited daylight and the risk of ice. As such, my original plan of a quick run when I got home from work each night hasn’t been manageable so I’m having to cram the miles in when I can around the school run, work, parents’ evenings and so on.

Still, I’ve just passed the halfway mark as the month itself is half done so we’re getting there. I’ve also passed the halfway mark in the fundraising. So I changed my target so that people would keep donating. Yes, you. Go on – donate. Thank you. Oh, and don’t forget the Gift Aid. The government would only spend the money on something useless like sweeties or Brexit.

So what are you helping? The thing is, prostate cancer is pretty common but not too many people know about it. Or, indeed, prostates. Other cancers get a lot more (deserved) publicity. Leukaemia, for instance. Yes, that’s a cancer. And breast cancer. Because breasts are pretty obvious and awesome and everyone likes them (except for people who actually own them, as I gather they’re either too big and therefore painful, or too small and therefore everyone else’s are better). But we all like boobs. It’s not just a male thing, either. I know gay ladies who do find a nice pair very appealing in a partner. All the sex stuff aside, is there anything more serene than a mother nursing her baby? Exactly, breasts are great in so many ways. And breast cancer affects men and women (though predominantly the fairer sex).

Prostate cancer is a male only thing as only men have them (and I include in this trans-women – the prostate isn’t removed during reassignment surgery, so please be aware that prostate cancer can still be a “thing”). The prostate gland is a small structure, mainly used during sex to create the fluid that sperm resides in. A simplified description and one which pretty much explains why the prostate definitely isn’t as sexy as boobs.

While mammograms aren’t a picnic, prostates are examine by a GP shoving a hopefully lubricated and gloved) finger up your bum. As the joke goes, if you can feel their hands in your shoulders while they’re doing this, you should be charging them by the hour… Prostate cancer can also be tested for by using a blood test. Macmillan Cancer has a nice bit of info on it.

In the UK, 1 in 8 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer at some point in their lifetime, comparable to the 1 in 7 women who will be diagnosed with breast cancer. While 23% of breast cancer cases are preventable, prostate cancer is not, though there may be ways to lower the risk.

By supporting charities such as Prostate Cancer UK, we can help research this nasty beast and work out ways to reduce its likelihood, to improve treatment, raise awareness and make tests easier and more reliable.

So even if you can’t donate (I get it, it’s January, you’re broke after wasting money on crap presents that nobody really wanted or needed last month), then at least read up a little on it. Make others more aware. See if you’re in a risk category and consider getting tested just in case. As with any cancer, the sooner you spot the thing, the more likely it is you’ll beat it.

That donation link again. Thanks.

Stand up for Sir Bobby

I’m just picking him out as I know about it, but I’m aware that thousands of cancer sufferers face the same bit of news every year. In fact, every week.

You are going to die. Soon. And we’ve reached the point where there’s nothing we can do about it.

Sir Bobby announced the following recently:

“I have accepted what they have told me and I am determined to make the most of what time I have left. I have been fortunate to survive this long. It is thanks to my doctors and their dedication.

“My condition is described as static and has not altered since my last bout of chemotherapy. They have arrested the growth of the tumours on my lungs.

“I am going to die sooner rather than later. But then everyone has to go sometime and I have enjoyed every minute.”

On Wednesday night, he was guest of honour at a Newcastle v PSV Eindhoven game having managed both clubs in the past. As I’ve always said, this guy will drop dead on a training pitch, the dugout or in the stands if there’s any justice.

The sad thing is that it’s going to happen soon, and the world will be a much sadder place without him.

Again, I’m just picking out one sufferer who I have a lot of respect for. I’ve lost relatives to cancer and statistically, I’ll lose more. So if you have a few spare quid that you’re not donating to Blue Dragon, then you could do worse than to forward it to the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation.

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