Brian Harrison has no doubt that a routine trip to the chemist's saved his life. Two years later, he's been on a mission to raise funds and awareness of a disease that still holds his life in the balance, and he can't wait to join Jeff on Day 6 as the Men United March passes through his native Birmingham.
It was a chance enquiry by his local pharmacist that Brian thanks for discovering his advanced prostate cancer two years ago.
The 65-year-old was stopping by Lloyds chemist to pick up a repeat prescription for high blood pressure when the pharmacist asked him for a five-minute chat about his general health. Normally in a rush, for some reason Brian agreed on this occasion and ended up confiding that he’d been going to the loo up to six times in a night.
On the chemist’s recommendation, Brian saw his GP and had a PSA test. The results showed his level was 14.5 and he was diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer following a digital rectal examination in June 2014.
“I’m so grateful to that pharmacist. Without them, I’d never have known about the cancer and may not have been around now to see my twin grandchildren grow up,” said Brian. “Since the diagnosis, I’ve been fundraising for Prostate Cancer UK to help beat this terrible disease.”
As soon as my daughters found out I had prostate cancer, they both wanted to help... I’m so proud of them
So far, Brian has raised thousands of pounds organising numerous events, including dedicating his 65th birthday party to Donate Your Day and rallying his gym – FW Fitness – to do the ‘Route 66 Challenge’, cycling and swimming 2,047 miles. He also regularly takes a collection and promotes our pin-badges at his local Tesco in Sheldon, near Birmingham.
“My daughters have been amazing, too,” said Brian. “As soon as they found out I had prostate cancer, they both wanted to help. Joanna completed two half-marathons and Emma and her friend Gemma climbed up Mount Snowdon. Together they’ve managed to raise over £1,000 for me and I’m so proud of them.”
Naturally, Brian is delighted to be continuing his fundraising mission by joining Jeff Stelling when he brings his Men United March to the West Midlands on Day 6. So far he’s raised over £1,200 and has been training hard to complete the 22-mile leg from Wolverhampton to Brum.
“My dog, Ruby, has joined me on all my training walks but at 11 years old, she’ll be too old to do the March itself!” said Brian, who has been coping with the side-effects of hormone injection therapy. “The pain in my legs and hot sweats can be very uncomfortable and I sometimes dread night-time as that’s when it gets worse.
“But this walk has given me an opportunity to talk to other men who are going through the same thing. I’ve already been chatting to lots of the guys on Facebook and look forward to meeting some of them on the walk.”
There’s also the excitement of walking with Jeff. “I can’t wait to meet him and ask him how much fun they have on Soccer Saturday,” said Brian. “What and the guys are doing by wearing their badges week-in-week-out is fantastic and will help to raise so much awareness. My aim is to have every man in the country wearing a Men United badge.”