While living with the side-effects of a radical prostatectomy, motorsport fanatic David Cox has transformed his Peugeot 205 GTI into a Men United-mobile in a bid to raise awareness among his mates at the racetrack.
Getting the chequered flag in his Peugeot 205 GTI at the likes of Silverstone and Donnington used to be David’s biggest goal when he sat behind the wheel.
After 30 years of competing in his trusty 205 and winning over 100 races, he thought he’d done it all. But that was until a radical prostatectomy – surgery to completely remove his prostate to treat his prostate cancer – left him incontinent.
Now he’s on a double mission: to beat his incontinence and make other men aware of their risk of prostate cancer. And he’s spreading the word by doing what he knows best – racing.
“I want to use my car as a promotional vehicle to raise awareness of prostate cancer,” says David, who now proudly sports Prostate Cancer UK’s Man of Men logo on his car. “At some events, there could be 600 cars. So with drivers, partners, mechanics, it could be over 1,000 people. If just 10 of them were made aware and went to the doctor’s, I’d be happy.”
David, who lives in Darlington with his wife Heather, was diagnosed with localised prostate cancer in 2012.
“I suppose my symptoms started in early 2012. I was struggling – going to the toilet more and more frequently. I decided to get checked out at the doctor’s and had a physical examination with a PSA blood check, and a biopsy soon after.
“I was prepared for the diagnosis but was still taken aback and struggled for the words to ask the right questions. Heather, my wife, was in total shock and very upset. We agreed with my doctor that a prostatectomy was the best way to treat it."
My operation went well and I had very little pain. The recovery was the big issue. I had to get used not only to the resting and inactivity, but also to the incontinence.
But just five months after his operation, and still living with incontinence, David returned to the circuit.
“Motorsport has been a passion of Heather’s and mine for many years so I was keen to get back to it and live my life. We had a good weekend and won two 2nd-class awards.”
“Incontinence was hard to deal with at first and now, two years later, I’m still using two pads a day. But it can be managed. I’ve even raced in a nappy or a puppy pad because I want to overcome it. It was my way of making people aware it’s not the end.”
And now, with another operation on the horizon – this time to insert an artificial valve to help control his bladder – David is focused on helping other men by getting out on the track in his newly rebuilt 205.
“Lots of my friends have been to the doctor’s; one of them was diagnosed and is now on hormone therapy.
“Nobody talks about prostate cancer but I will. I’m not a preacher but it helps to talk.”
The environmental journalist and activist is the latest high-profile man to open up about having prostate cancer, after writing a searingly honest column giving his three top tips for keeping upbeat in the face of the disease.