A quick trip to the doctor can be a life-saver

Andy Clarke completing the Great North Run
Andy Clarke completing the Great North Run

Many men put off going to the doctor – but dad-of-two Andy Clarke potentially saved his life thanks to a 30-second check-up.

For the examination revealed the keen sportsman from Thornton was suffering from prostate cancer.

Andy Clarke and Pauline Rae raising awareness of prostate cancer at Blackpool Victoria Hospital

Andy Clarke and Pauline Rae raising awareness of prostate cancer at Blackpool Victoria Hospital

Thanks to his decision to get checked out, the disease was found before it could spread.

And just six weeks after finishing his treatment, civil servant Andy completed the Great North Run.

Now he is a volunteer for Prostate Cancer UK on the Fylde coast and is urging other men to ensure they get examined.

Andy, 51, dad to Henry, 18, and James, 24, was just 45 when he was first diagnosed with prostate cancer.

Peter William Edwards who died from prostate cancer in 2014

Peter William Edwards who died from prostate cancer in 2014

He said: “I was aware that there was a history of prostate cancer in my family.

“I went to see my GP because my paternal grandfather died with it and my father, Derek, was diagnosed with it in 2010.

“Dad still receives hormone injections and regular infusions to strengthen his bones. There is the potential for it to follow the male line.”

Andy, who is a football coach for Poulton Town Under 14s and a cricket coach for Norcross Juniors, said he felt numb after his diagnosis.

He said: “I chose to have radiotherapy and hormone therapy instead of surgery.

“I wanted to keep working and to be as normal as possible. I set myself different targets and kept going. I feel well now but I still have my moments and have to be careful about what I eat.”

He said men often feel embarrassed as seeing a GP involves a rectal examination but said any discomfort was worth it.

He added: “It’s just 30 seconds of embarrassment and it could save your life.

“Prostate cancer can be unpredictable. It often doesn’t have any symptoms.

“A lot of men think it’s a slight on their masculinity but it’s really not like that. You need support and to find the right treatment for you.

“If you have any symptoms that are of concern to you, or if you have a family history of the disease, you should get checked out.”

Another volunteer for Prostate Cancer UK on the Fylde coast is nurse Pauline Rae, 55, from Lytham, whose dad Peter William Edwards, a former firefighter, died in September 2014 after suffering from metastatic prostate cancer.

She too is determined to give men as much information as possible so they can protect themselves.

Pauline, who has a daughter Victoria, 25, said: “Dad had been an active and fit man as long as I could remember and enjoyed his life.

“Dad bravely dealt with his illness for seven years and, indeed, during that time had many very happy times, living his life as fully as possible, refusing to let his illness define him but accepting the treatments with dignity.

“Having seen my dad pass away from the illness, the emotions associated to the loss are indescribable.

“I felt strongly that I should do some volunteering, raising awareness and funds through various activities to help others in the future.

“Dad had his surgery and other treatments at Blackpool Victoria Hospital. He was extremely well supported and he had a superb oncologist called Mr Danwatta.

“Dad had a huge amount of respect for Mr Danwatta and his team.

“Mr Danwatta fought hard for dad who was full of praise for the unit at Blackpool.

“Staff did everything they could to support him.”

In the UK, one in eight men get prostate cancer, with more than 46,000 men being diagnosed per year.

There are approximately 11,000 deaths per year and more than 330,000 men are living with and beyond Prostate Cancer.

The survival rate has tripled in the last 40 years.

Eighty four per cent of men now survive prostate cancer for 10 years or more.