20 Aug 2013

At 18 years old, Luke Cassells is the youngest speaker volunteer at Prostate Cancer UK. Recently we spoke to Luke about his story.


Luke Cassells"It's been nearly a year since I lost my dad. 6pm, Monday 17 September 2012. I'd tried to prepare for months for that moment but you can't. He'd just celebrated his 54th birthday.

It took me a couple of months after he died before I realised that I wanted to do something more to spread the word. Dad didn't know anything about prostate cancer and there are lots of people like him.

I'd already done a 250 mile bike ride for Prostate Cancer UK before he died but after looking at the website I found that I could volunteer too. I spoke to Jennifer (Jennifer Todd, Volunteer Support Officer for the North of England) and she chatted to me about the different things I could do. It was at that point I decided I really wanted to be a speaker volunteer and talk to others about prostate cancer.

When I went to the training in Manchester it was the first time I'd really spoken to a group about what had happened.

My dad had been diagnosed in March 2011. He'd had lower back pain but had always put off doing anything about it. Originally doctors thought it might be bowel cancer but after various tests it was discovered he had prostate cancer and that it had spread.

When you first hear the word cancer you think, 'he's going to die isn't he?' I didn't find out he had prostate cancer for four months after he'd been diagnosed. I had my GCSE's coming up and my mum and dad didn't want to distract me from them.

He had chemotherapy and radiotherapy that year but in November 2011 the doctors told us the treatment wasn't working. On Friday 14 September I was over at a mate's house when I got the call 'come home it's your dad'. On Monday he passed away at home.

It was hard telling people at the volunteer training about it but I managed to hold it together. We each shared our stories and I heard all these different people and different approaches and it did make me think, 'I wish dad had done that,' as he died but they lived. It just really hit home listening to them.

After being trained I had a call from Jennifer about doing my first talk. It was at an African Caribbean church. I was quite confident but at the same time a bit nervous and apprehensive. How will they perceive me? I did my talk, explained why I'm doing it, told them my story and it went well. They even asked me questions at the end. They especially wanted to know more about the fact that African Caribbean men are three times* more likely to be diagnosed with prostate cancer.

I did really enjoy it though and I'm looking forward to doing more talks and more fundraising. I'm thinking about doing a 10k run in Manchester next year and also bucket shaking at some Football League games.

I'm hoping to join the army soon so I'd like to spread the word to them. If I can do a talk and someone goes to their doctor then that's amazing.  I just want to help people and raise awareness."

Interested in volunteering?

*Things have changed since this was published. Find out more.

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