Having watched four members of her family battle prostate cancer, Jo Gregory will be running the London Marathon for us this weekend in memory of her dad, who died from the disease only last month. She tells us why it’s #NotJustAVest for her and hopes the money she raises will make a better future for her two sons.
We’ve always been a tight-knit family. So when my 69-year-old grandfather and his younger brother were both diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer in 1997 and granddad died shortly afterwards, it came as a huge blow to us all. When my father was then diagnosed with the disease in 2012, it was yet another shock to our family.
I’ve always looked up to my dad. He worked hard all his life, had been self-employed and had achieved so much. So when he became unwell, I was devastated. After an initial PSA test, my father was referred for a biopsy. And in December 2012, we were told that dad had advanced prostate cancer that was in his lymph nodes and chest cavity.
My father has been through so much in the past three years: hormone treatment, steroids, two rounds of radiotherapy, chemotherapy, a stoma, a catheter, severe fluid retention in his legs and groin – sheer torture.
Since September, my father was really struggling. He became housebound and was in a lot of pain. Then in the January of this year, my mum’s mum took ill at 87 and passed away from stomach cancer at the end of February.
The sudden passing of my grandmother really knocked my Dad and he deteriorated very quickly, sadly passing on 12 March – just over a month ago.
I can never get my dad back, but I know I can do something positive in his memory and for the future of my sons
It’s heart-wrenching how many of our family have been affected by this horrible disease – my husband’s grandfather also had prostate cancer – which is why I think it’s so important that men are aware of the hereditary risks and the need to catch prostate cancer early.
My husband is going to start having a regular annual PSA blood test from this year to put both our minds at rest. We’ve got two beautiful boys and I know they have an increased risk of the disease.
I just hope Prostate Cancer UK’s aim to tame prostate cancer in ten years will have a real effect on the way the disease is diagnosed and treated for future generations.
That’s why I’m running the London Marathon. This is #NotJustAVest for me; this is my chance to make a change, to make sure prostate cancer isn’t ignored and that other children won’t suffer in the way that my family has.
I can never get my dad back, but I know I can do something positive in his memory and for the future of my sons.