After his prostate cancer diagnosis, Keith Gillham set out on a 56-mile walk from his home to our offices to raise money and awareness of the disease. Now with Walk to Work Day this Friday, he wants everyone to take up the challenge of a fundraising walk and show their support for men like him.
When Keith Gillham started getting up more frequently in the night to go to the toilet, his practise nurse wife began to think something wasn’t right. Keith thought it could be down to getting older, but he decided to see his GP anyway and had a PSA test.
The results led to him being diagnosed with moderately aggressive prostate cancer in October 2015.
"When the doctor told me I had prostate cancer, I glazed over," remembers Keith. "From that moment, I didn’t take in anything else that he was saying.
"My wife, being a nurse, soaked up the information like a sponge. She was incredible. When we left, she asked me what I wanted to do and I knew I just wanted it out."
But Keith didn't want to sit still until his prostatectomy the following December, and hatched a plan for an epic walking challenge instead.
"I decided to walk with a couple of friends from West Sussex to the Prostate Cancer UK offices in London Bridge. 56 miles!
"It took a couple of days and was mentally and physically tough, but totally worth it. We raised £4,000, which I was absolutely thrilled about."
After his surgery, Keith had to go back into hospital on Christmas Day because his catheter was causing bleeding.
"That was the worst bit, worse than the operation. But I knew it wasn’t permanent. And despite it, I was happy that the cancer had been removed and that I didn't have incontinence afterwards."
Keith wanted to continue supporting Prostate Cancer UK and raise awareness of the disease, so on the anniversary of his operation, he decided to repeat his walking challenge again.
"This was a real celebration of the fact I was healthy and well," says Keith. "I did the same walk, over two days, but this time on my own.
"I met so many people on the way and everyone was so supportive – giving me money, buying me coffee in coffee shops – and I raised another £2,000 for the charity."
Now Keith is asking others to show their support by taking part in Walk to Work Day, doing your usual commute on foot and donating what you would have spent on transport to help beat prostate cancer.
"Walking is something everyone can do and is a great way of not only raising some money, but also raising awareness," says Keith.
"I spoke to so many people throughout my challenges about what I was doing and why it is so important. It was humbling to know how many people wanted to support and know how vital this cause is."
When Harry Firth fulfilled his life-long ambition of hiking the epic Pacific Crest Trail this year, he decided to raise money for us as a tribute to his girlfriend's dad, who lives with incurable prostate cancer. Among the close encounters with wildlife and thrilling scenery, it was a campfire proposal that would leave the biggest impression and make his future father-in-law most proud.