I had a piece of fantastic news last week, one of those breakthrough moments that all of us who work in and support the charity sector aim for. On the surface it may not sound that exciting. The news was that NICE, after undertaking an exceptional review, had agreed to update its guidelines for prostate cancer diagnosis and management
The moral of this story so far is that everything might seem alright, but, as the old song goes, that ain't necessarily so... Years ago, we used to say "Most people die with prostate cancer , not of prostate cancer". But with longer life expectancy, that is no longer the case. So here's the thing: it is no use men being shy about their bits and pieces. That can lead to death.
It's always been a taboo subject; that process of men going to the doctors and talking about their health. Men always tended to stay away from it. Men didn't want to go to the doctors. Even today if they've got anything wrong with their waterworks some will think, 'Oh it'll be alright, we'll be alright". We're good at saying that. But this is a serious situation and it's important that people become more aware.
By the time I found a lump in my breast the cancer had already spread to my lymph nodes. What might have happened, if I had checked myself more regularly? Who knows. I have decided there is no point in dwelling on it.
If energy and resource is invested in the transformation needed, cancers like prostate cancer can become manageable "tamed" diseases which are less of a drain on the NHS. And more importantly we can stop wasting tens of thousands of lives in the UK every year. There really is a win-win for cancer but it's going to take a lot of energy and focus to create the conditions where it can be achieved.
We tell boys to be brave, to 'man' up. If they are gentle or show emotion they are often called a 'girl', as if that was a weakness. Compassion is seen as a feminine characteristic, undesirable in men - with tragic consequences.
This morning a colleague updated me on the situation of a man called Kevin that we have been in touch with over recent months, whose prostate cancer is terminal and has spread to his bones.
People expect that anything as serious as cancer will have obvious symptoms which will warn them to get a check up. But early stage prostate cancer doesn't usually have any: no visible lumps to look out for, no funny pains to get checked out.
Nine down, one to go - the end really is in sight. We've been over hills, down dales, along canals, over fields and stiles. Truly a walk on the wild side for this gentleman of the road and my trusty wingman Russ Green, who has walked every step with me. And we're getting cracking support as we inch closer to the finish.
I deal in statistics - but the prostate cancer ones are totally shocking. One man dies every hour from this disease. That's six during Soccer Saturday every week. Yes, my feet are killing me. But who cares if it will save even one man's life?
Just two days to go... Maybe you've heard about the 10 marathons I'm walking in 10 days to raise funds for Prostate Cancer UK? Why am I doing it? Everybody must know somebody who suffers from prostate cancer. One man dies every hour from this disease, that's six in the course of my Soccer Saturday show every week.
10,900 men die of prostate cancer every year. That's one every hour. 44,000 are diagnosed every 12 months, and one in every three diagnosed will die of the disease. I could go on, but I won't. Enough to say that these stats, which are bad anyway, are heading in the wrong direction.
Men United is one team I am happy to support, without question. Sometimes we have to turn a blind eye to our friends little quirks and oddities, I know I did. My best mate is an Evertonian, I am a dyed-in-the-wool Red. And that's exactly what Prostate Cancer UK wants us all to do: get your friends together and do something great to beat this horrible disease that affects one in eight men.
On the whole things are bearable, though it never ceases to amaze me how they manage to come up with new and inventive ways to torture a person in the name of making them better. Susan Sontag (her again) said that "the treatment is worse than the disease", and the whole thing does feel incredibly counterintuitive at times.
Five years ago, we could have lost my own father Michael Bradbury to prostate cancer, the men-only disease which kills one man in the UK every single hour. Put another way, it means 24 prostate cancer deaths on Father's Day alone - or 168 during Men's Health Week.
I know I'm biased (and I'm sure other organisations who work with volunteers will say the same) but I have never worked with a group of people whose commitment to the cause is so absolute... They fundraise, raise awareness, share their knowledge and experience, and talk from the heart. And they save lives. Our volunteers are amazing. Every day of the year.