After his dad was recently diagnosed with aggressive prostate cancer, Cameron Dale signed up to join Jeff Stelling on the final leg of his March for Men, from Durham to Newcastle. He tells us why his dad is his hero, the shock of the last few months as he underwent treatment, and how he's looking forward to a post-walk pint from his dad at their beloved Newcastle United.
You're walking for your dad today, who's recovering from aggressive prostate cancer. What does he mean to you?
Where do I start? On my JustGiving page I call him my hero – and he really is. If I grow up to be the fraction of the man he is, then I’ll be happy. My dad never puts himself first. As long as he’s providing for myself, my sister and my mam, then he’s happy.
At times, I believe my dad has worked too hard. Even now, he’s still trying to juggle an important high-up job with the effects of the prostate cancer. But that's my dad's mentality – he'll never change. And as much as it sometimes gets under my skin that he’s always right, he truly knows what’s best for me and keeps me on the straight-and-narrow. I’m always there for him and he’s always there for me – and that’s the way it always will be.
Since your dad's diagnosis, how has it affected you and the family?
At first, we all found it hard and I think I found it the hardest of all. I couldn’t face my dad for days. I found it hard to even look at him as it was too upsetting, and I realised it would only make things worse for him. I think it's only because of the good results he’s been getting from recent tests that it’s made it easier for us to face. I don’t think it would have been easy at all had the prognosis been bad.
Cameron as a toddler on his dad's shoulders
How does he feel about you doing the March for him?
At first I didn’t know how my dad would take it. I remember asking my mam and my girlfriend: do you think he’ll be alright with this? I would have to ask people for donations and I didn’t know whether he’d want people to know what he’s going through. But he called me mad and said he was chuffed I was doing, and he’d be at the finish line with a pint waiting for me. So I’ll hold him to that. Since signing up, my dad has undergone surgery at the Freeman Hospital Newcastle to remove the prostate and – I’m pleased to say – is on the road to recovery.
How much does it mean to you to see the world of football – including your beloved Newcastle United – supporting Prostate Cancer UK?
I think it’s great. Before my dad was diagnosed, I always used to wonder what the pin-badge Jeff Stelling and the other Sky Sports pundits used to wear meant. Even now, when I wear mine to work, people ask what it means – so it’s a good way to spread the word. What I’d also like to add is the great support I’ve noticed a lot of women giving to the charity. I know a lot of woman have signed up to do the walk and that’s lovely to see.
Cameron in his Newcastle United strip as a child