Roger's story

It was 20 years since I had retired from the Northamptonshire Police force and I was very happily spending time with my family and friends and had rarely stepped back into my previous uniformed world.

That is until April 2014 when I was persuaded to finally attend a regional meeting of the National Association of Retired Police Officers with one of my friends and former colleagues.

As we set off for the venue in Oxford and I prepared myself for a few hours of pleasantly nostalgic small talk, I could not possibly have envisaged that it would turn out to be a day that would change my whole life and my approach to living.

Someone on the platform read a letter to the gathering that had been sent from a former officer. It explained that he was unable to attend because he had recently been diagnosed with prostate cancer and urged that the other men in the room should get themselves checked out as it is especially prevalent in men who are aged 50 and over.

When I got home I mentioned this to Jill, my wife of 50 years, and she immediately started nagging me to go and get a test done. I protested on the grounds that I felt perfectly well and had none of the signs or problems.

But she persisted, reminding me that my father had been suffering from it before he passed away two years previously, and so eventually and reluctantly, I gave in and arranged to have a PSA blood test at my local GP.

The following day I had a phone call from the surgery and was told that my PSA reading was very high and that they had booked me an appointment with a consultant.

That was obviously concerning but I was still fairly confident that it would be something that fell into the so-called ‘margin of error’ category, as I was fit and healthy and active.

Two weeks later I was in hospital to have the ‘finger test’ and more blood tests and shortly afterwards I was quietly informed that I had prostate cancer and that it was both advanced and aggressive.

At the age of 71 I was told that I had one or maybe two years of my life left.

It was a massive and devastating shock to me and Jill and our daughter and four sons and their families. There are almost no words to describe how it felt to realise that I had left it too late to be tested and that our plans and expectations would all have to be reassessed.

Since that day I have had the most wonderful support from my family and friends and have been undergoing a form of hormone therapy that may work in the short term but without a cure I know that my time is limited.

When we heard that Colin Jackson had launched his new project, Go Dad Run, to raise funds for Prostate Cancer UK, my whole family embraced it because here, at last, was a charity event that we could relate to and with which we could get involved.

My sons Pete and Phil, son-in-law Trev and grandson Matt all ran the 2014 Go Dad Run 5K in Birmingham and 2015 saw another big family turn out at the Worcester Racecourse run, whilst another son, Paul, even ran Go Dad Run 5K's of his own in a park in Shepparton, Australia where he lives and works.

Between them they have raised many thousands of pounds for the wonderful research and awareness work that Prostate Cancer UK carry out and I am immensely proud of them all.

Everyone knows about the astonishing success of the amazing ‘Race For Life’ but we had never been aware of any similar event for men and so we all fully supported what Colin and Go Dad Run are trying to do.

Our hope is that this year the event will grow in 2017 and beyond so that we see far more men and boys signing up to run and get sponsored and help us raise as much money as possible for Prostate Cance UK.

But, just as importantly, I hope that men will start thinking about their own bodies and health, learn what the early signs are for prostate cancer and, if in doubt, get tested.

The lesson is very simple. If you get tested and catch it early then you have a very good chance of recovering from it. If you don’t, you don’t. I didn’t and so I haven’t.

I know that Colin won many medals and accolades throughout his long career as an athlete, and he was a multiple world champion and world record holder, but creating Go Dad Run may well prove to be his greatest and most enduring achievement and it is great to see that firms such as Sanlam, Big Yellow Self Storage and Puma are backing his vision as well.

Being diagnosed with prostate cancer has meant that every single day is important to me and although I am getting slightly slower, I am relishing the time spent with my wonderful wife and children and grandchildren and I am looking forward to seeing lots of them doing their own Go Dad Runs next year.

Although we know that no predictions are 100% accurate, prostate cancer means that the final chapter of my own life story will come rather sooner than my family or I had expected.

But I hope that sharing my experience may mean that others are prompted to see their GP and request a PSA test and ensure that if they do have a problem, it is diagnosed and treated as soon as possible so that they – or maybe you – have many more chapters of life left to enjoy.

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