Awareness speaker, Phil Ormesher, will be taking part in the inaugural Jaguar E-type Round Britain Coastal Drive, joining the route for the Blackpool-to-Carlisle leg. We caught up with him to find out why he decided to take part and how he hopes the rally will drive conversation about prostate cancer among the over 50s.
I have a 1968 Series 2 Roadster. I bought it in 1981 and although not my ‘daily drive’, I use it whenever I can. I’m also a member of the Jaguar Enthusiast Club, which is where I saw the Drive advertised. I thought it was a fantastic event for the club to be organising as many historic Jaguar owners are older men, and consequently are at higher risk of getting prostate cancer, making them an ideal audience for this event. The E-type is such an attention grabbing car, described by Enzo Ferrari himself as "the most beautiful car ever made", so a fleet of them is bound to attract maximum publicity for the charity.
I am sure the Drive will create greater awareness of prostate cancer with an audience that might not currently know much about the disease. As an awareness speaker for Prostate Cancer UK, I’m used to starting conversations about the disease and I know the impact that such dialogue can have.
I became an awareness speaker after being diagnosed with prostate cancer in December 2012. I had my first PSA test as part of a Well Man clinic ten years ago at my local GP. A work colleague and good friend of mine, Mike Lockett, had been diagnosed with prostate cancer and recommended I have an annual test to monitor my PSA level.
Mike talked openly about prostate cancer (unlike most men!) and I firmly believe that I owe him my life
The first test came back normal. However, each year since then, my PSA result increased slightly and in 2012 the results were above the normal level. My initial reaction was to do nothing as I had no symptoms and my PSA elevation was relatively tiny – it was 4.9 when, for my age, it should be less than 4. But the DRE revealed lumps that shouldn’t be there, and subsequent biopsies showed significant cancer at an aggression level that needed treatment. So in March 2013, I had brachytherapy and my PSA level is now 0.5 and I’ve had no side effects at all.
When I was diagnosed with prostate cancer I already knew quite a lot about the disease because of Mike. He talked openly about it (unlike most men!) and I firmly believe that I owe him my life. Without his advice, and consequently my early diagnosis, I have no doubt that my cancer would have spread. But when I told my friends about my diagnosis, most of them didn’t know what a prostate was or – more importantly – what could go wrong with it.
From plush offices to portakabins, I’ve met some great people and hopefully done a little good on the way
This made me think that I should start doing something to help raise awareness of the disease. I found Prostate Cancer UK online and saw that they had a programme of volunteers who gave awareness talks, so I took the training and began giving talks. Since April 2014, I've delivered 167 presentations and been involved with 41 awareness stands. As a result, I reckon I’ve had meaningful conversations with 4,536 people. From plush offices to portakabins on a building site and waste disposal depots, I’ve met some great people and hopefully done a little good on the way.
My wife and I will be joining the Drive for the Blackpool to Carlisle leg and I’m looking forward to using the event to create even greater awareness about prostate cancer. I’m hopeful that the weather in September will be kind as my Jaguar’s elderly heating system might make it challenging if it’s cold.