For our chief executive, Angela Culhane, and her family, there will always be someone missing from their table at Christmas. She tells us about the men who will be in her thoughts this year, and the work we’re doing to change the game for them, as she joins thousands of our supporters hanging our ‘Man of Men’ decoration as part of our Christmas appeal.
I have the privilege of meeting many inspirational men whose lives will be forever changed by their prostate cancer diagnosis. So narrowing down to just one person to pay tribute to has been tough. And I have to confess, I’ve cheated a bit. This Christmas, I’m hanging three of our striking ‘Man of Men’ decorations on my tree.
One is for my lovely father-in-law, Tom (picture below). Tom was first diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2003 and lived with the disease for 10 years until his death in 2013. My husband, Ian, and my children missed out on many great years with him. Tom loved Christmas - he used to call us first thing on Christmas Day to ask if Father Christmas had been, even if we were going to see him a couple of hours later. His excitement about it was infectious so we all miss him at this time of year in particular. Now, Ian and my son, Joe, live with the knowledge that they are two and a half times more likely to develop prostate cancer due to the family link.
My second ‘Man of Men’ is for all our wonderful supporters who have walked, run, cycled, volunteered, fundraised and supported our cause in countless other ways. Every minute you have spent supporting us has helped us tell more men about their risk of developing prostate cancer and the work we do to support them. Every pound you raised will help us fund more lifesaving research and provide support for men worried about or living with a prostate cancer diagnosis.
For the 11,000 men lost to prostate cancer in 2017, I don't know you all by name, but hope you can rest in peace knowing that we are fighting hard every day so that the next generation need not fear this disease.
Finally, my third ‘Man of Men’ is in tribute to all the men we’ve lost to prostate cancer this year. The number is startling. In the last 12 months over 11,000 men have died. Men like Bernie, (pictured below with granddaughter Lydia) who features in our Christmas appeal. A much-loved father and grandpa, last year Bernie’s family faced their first Christmas without him just days after his death. This year, his daughter Hayley and grandson Rory have joined forces with Prostate Cancer UK to inspire people to donate to us and give families like theirs more time with the men they love.
It breaks my heart that 11,000 more families, like mine, will be missing a grandfather, father, husband, brother or son this Christmas. That number is set to rise, but we’re doing everything we can to reverse the trend. We’ve made a huge leap forward with our investment in world-leading research into precision medicine. Our research programme aims to discover what makes each man’s cancer evolve, so we can match it to the treatment that’s most likely to stop it in its tracks. It’s one significant step forward, but we have many more to take if we’re going to stop prostate cancer from being a killer.
2018 is going to be a big year for Prostate Cancer UK as we progress ever closer to our aim of taming prostate cancer. Just for starters, we’re looking forward to announcing the next round of Research Innovation Awards early next year. These awards fund research across the whole of our research strategy – from better diagnosis and better treatments through to better prevention, but the key thing they all have in common is that they must have thepotential to be game changing. They must demonstrate original thinking and innovative ideas that have the potential to lead to the next big breakthrough for men with prostate cancer. So watch this space!
We can’t do any of this without support from people like you. We’ve got some incredible activities planned for next year, including our March for Men programme, with even more cities on the map and an exciting new challenge for football fans to get their teeth in to.
With your backing we can make more men aware of their risk, provide them with the support they need, fund more research and ultimately give men more time with their families.