Former SAFC footballer urges men to get checked out in prostate cancer awareness drive
A former Sunderland AFC footballer has shared his experience of prostate cancer in a bid to raise awareness of the condition and to encourage others to be aware of the symptoms.
Maurice Hepworth played for the Black Cats in the early 1970’s before leaving to ply his trade in South Africa with the Arcadia Shepherds.
The 67-year-old, who is from Sunderland, was diagnosed with prostate cancer in November 2017 after noticing changes in the frequency of urination, the pressure when he did go and experiencing some pain.
The dad-of-six and grandfather-of-nine said: “When I noticed the symptoms, I contacted my doctor who saw me pretty quickly. I had a blood test, and I was referred to a consultant who put me on a fast-track cancer pathway.
"I had all the tests done within three weeks and it was after these that I was told that I needed to undergo surgery or I was going to die.
“From start to finish the clinical teams I’ve worked with have been incredible. The NHS has saved my life. I know people, men in particular, can feel scared to contact their doctor through fear of being told they might have cancer.
"And there’s the pride and the masculinity element of not wanting to have someone examine or do tests on their private areas – and I totally get that, but it needs to change.
“If by telling my story I can get one person to go and speak to their doctor about any cancer worries or concerns, then I will be happy. Try and put aside your pride and your fear that it might change your life, because it could save your life,”
As part of Urology Awareness Month, the Northern Cancer Alliance has launched its public awareness campaign, with the tag line “Problem peeing… you need seeing”, to encourage people across the region to talk to their GP or nurse if they are concerned about signs or symptoms of cancer.
Urological cancers include bladder, prostate, kidney, testicular and penile cancer.
Symptoms can include difficulty and/or pain when passing urine, blood in the urine, a need to pass urine more frequently particularly during the night, a swelling or lump in the area of the kidney, fevers and night sweats, tiredness, unexplained weight loss, muscle spasms in the bladder, a lump or swelling in one testicle which may or may not be accompanied by an ache or heavy sensation, changes to the skin on the penis including thickening, growths, sores or a rash.
Football pundit Jeff Stelling, who is an ambassador for Prostate Cancer UK, has also added his support to the campaign.
He commented: “Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men. One in eight men will get prostate cancer in their lifetime.
“You’re more likely to get prostate cancer if you’re aged 50 or over, you’re black, or your father or brother has had it.
"Most men with early prostate cancer don’t have any symptoms but if you experience problems peeing, you need seeing so speak to your GP.”