Daily Telegraph football reporter Ian Ridley shares first hand experience of the seriousness of prostate cancer
Ian Ridley is a Football League reporter for the Daily Telegraph. He was formerly Sports Journalist of the year and chairman of the non-League club Weymouth. He shares his experiences of prostate cancer.
Men United v Prostate Cancer. We can win this - By Ian Ridley
I DIDN'T really take in what it meant when my father told me he had prostate cancer. Didn't really know what it was or understand his treatment. I just knew I was worried for him. Worst word in the English language cancer, isn't it?
But even if cancer is as likely to be random as much as hereditary, I knew too that I was probably a candidate. And so it came to pass. I did develop prostate cancer.
What I also knew, thankfully, from Dad's case was that in many cases it is treatable, especially if caught early. People recover.
The prostate gland is peculiar to men and is about the size of a walnut. It is located internally beneath the bladder, its function to help in the production of sperm.
After Dad's diagnosis, and as I entered my 50s, I began to get myself checked. It's not nice, no pretending it is, and easy to joke about. In one test, a doctor inserts a finger up the rectum to the prostate to check for signs of the roughness symptomatic of cancer. It is, however, uncomfortable rather than painful.
In my mid-50s, I began to get symptoms that I knew about from Dad: up to urinate in the night more frequently, my flow getting weaker. My PSA level - an indicator of potential for the disease taken via a blood test - had risen. A doctor reckoned I needed a biopsy.
That procedure involved a needle taking samples from the prostate, again through the rectum. Again it wasn't nice. But again, it was manageable.
It shook me when I knew I had the disease. But curiously, my shock didn't last. I don't know how or why but I was given the strength to cope. Cancer didn't actually seem the worst word in the language.
Treatments, after all, had improved and I elected for 35 days of radiotherapy - seven weeks of five days. All short bursts and painless, though it was tiring. Still, I managed to keep working.
I have to be honest and say I was more worried when it came back two years later, spreading to a few lymph nodes in my pelvis. Now there is more treatment, in the form of three-monthly hormone injections, that helps keep it under control.
More than 40,000 men a year are diagnosed with prostate cancer and one in eight of us will be diagnosed with it.
Some will die because they left it too late. One dear old friend, Bob Lucas, who was my beloved club president was I was chairman of Weymouth FC, ignored his symptoms, putting them down to "old man's troubles" and I miss him dreadfully.
But it need not be that way. If this fearful, squeamish soul can go through it all and even laugh about some of it now, then so, I believe, can all men.
Please sign for Men United. Visit prostatecanceruk.org/menunited
And talk to your doctor if you have any concerns.