Leeds is one of just three cities in the UK chosen to hold a March for Men. Catherine Scott reports.
One man dies every hour from prostate cancer in the UK.
More than 3,690 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer in the Yorkshire and Humber region each year, with almost 1,000 men dying from the disease.
Today Prostate Cancer UK launches its search for walkers in Leeds to try to reduce this shocking figure. The men’s health charity’s bid to beat prostate cancer will see a series of three epic walk across the UK in June starting with Leeds.
Former Emmerdale actress Gemma Oaten, whose father Dennis has had prostate cancer, is fronting the march and walk on the day with her dad and prostate cancer survivor Dennis on Sunday June 18 at Roundhay Park.
“I have seen the effect that prostate cancer can not only have on a man, but also on a whole family. When my dad was diagnosed with stage 3 aggressive prostate cancer, it was terrifying to think we could lose him.
“I had just got the part of Rachel in Emmerdale and we’d been on a family holiday where my dad just hadn’t been himself. My mum made him go to the doctors when we got back and he did a PSA (prostate specific antigen) test which was high and then they diagnosed stage 3 aggressive prostate cancer. I was devastated I am lucky to be very close to both my parents. My dad means the world to me. I was determined he wasn’t going to die.”
Gemma, who herself nearly died during a ten year battle with anorexia, said it was the support of her family that got her through.
“We hadn’t been through all that for him to die of prostate cancer.”
Dennis was lucky enough to be put on a clinical trial which involved hormone therapy, chemo and radiotherapy. His cancer is now dormant although he has to under go regular check ups.
“I’m so grateful that he is here with us today and we are able to all take part in the Leeds March for Men, knowing that he is okay,” says Gemma who is set to appear in Holby City. “I really encourage everyone to come and take part in the walk on Father’s Day. It’s about getting the whole family together, having a lot of fun but most importantly raising as much awareness of the disease and funds for Prostate Cancer UK that we can. I know that if dad had left it any later to go and get checked, he may not be here to walk with us in June. By joining in this event, everyone can help spread the message about prostate cancer and help us stop it being a killer.”
The Leeds March for Men starts and finishes at an event village where there will be food, drink, music and a chance to find out more about the charity’s work. The event forms part of Prostate Cancer UK’s wider walking programmewhich includes a trio of walks in London on June 17 and Leeds and Glasgow 24 hours later. The charity will also be encouraging supporters to hold their own marches to try to raise £1 million through walking in 2017.
One person already signed up for the Leeds walk is dad of two Lloyd Pinder who was diagnosed with terminal prostate cancer aged just 43 - it normally affects men over 50.
Lloyd has been told he has five -10 years to live. However, this is based on someone older than him and Lloyd is determined to see his two young daughters Lola and Gracie grow up.
“I really believe that I could double that time and live for another 20 years and see my children grown up,” says Lloyd who had no symptoms and has no family history of prostate cancer. He only went to the doctor when he noticed blood in his semen.
“We went to York Hospital and got told the devastating news I had advanced prostate cancer.” The PSA test should be below 4 - Lloyd’s was 130.
“If it’s in the prostate you can manage it, but it had spread to my lymph glands.” Lloyd had six sessions of chemotherapy and didn’t take any time off work as the treatment didn’t make him feel unwell. He also had cheno and radiotherapy as well as hormone therapy. In December his PSA level went down to .7. Lloyd says he doesn’t take anything for granted and tries to impose that outlook on other people. I am very lucky to have wonderful kids and a wife , Tina, that loves me. But as I grow older it is difficult as you know what you’re going to lose. However, I have living with cancer not dying from it, and the emphasis is on living. I am determined to beat it.” Lloysd took part in television sports presenter Jeff Stelling’s March for Men last year in which he raised £6,000. He also organised a charity ball for Prostate Cancer UK and in total has raised around £20,000. He is doing three back to back marathon walks with Jeff again this year. Lloyd, from South Milford, also wants to get as many of his friends as possible to take part in the Leeds March for Men. “Prostate cancer affects families in the same way breast cancer affects families, it’s the male equivalent “Men don’t want to talk about their problems and men should be more open. The money we raise is secondary to the awareness.”
The launch of the Leeds March for Men comes hot on the heels of Jeff Stelling announcing another walking challenge for Prostate Cancer UK. The Soccer Saturday host is aiming to raise £500,000 on his March for Men, 15 walking marathons in 15 days in June, stopping off at football clubs including Huddersfield Town, Barnsley FC, Bradford City, Harrogate Town, Bedale Town and Ripon City.
Angela Culhane, Chief Executive at Prostate Cancer UK, said: “We are thrilled to announce the launch of March for Men – Prostate Cancer UK’s new walking programme aiming to bring people together throughout the UK to celebrate the lives of those who’ve beaten prostate cancer and to remember those who have been sadly lost to the disease.
“Currently one man an hour dies from prostate cancer in the UK. Based on current trends, if we ignore prostate cancer and do nothing, this number will rise to over 14,500 men a year by 2026. Money raised through March for Men will have a huge impact on the lives of those affected by the disease and will help bring us a few steps closer to stopping prostate cancer being a killer.
“Roundhay Park is the perfect location for us to host the Leeds March for Men this June, and we encourage others to put their best foot forward, as Gemma Oaten is doing, and join us for what is expected to be a great day.
“On average we take over 216 million steps in our lifetime, that’s over 110,000 miles. So why not make your steps count by Marching for Men. It’s a few small steps for you, one giant leap for Men.”
More than 11,000 men die from prostate cancer in the UK each year. It’s the most common cancer in men, with over 330,000 living with and after the disease in the UK. Three City Walks, held over 2.5km, 5km and 10km will take place across Father’s Day weekend, in London on June 17 and Leeds and Glasgow 24 hours later. Money raised will be used to help ‘shift the science’ and crack the three core issues of diagnosis, treatment and prevention.To sign up to the Leeds March for Men, visit marchformen.org