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05 Jul 2018

John Lloyd: “People on the tennis circuit have since spoken to me about prostate cancer”

In 2017, on the eve of Wimbledon, former British number one and BBC tennis pundit John Lloyd revealed his prostate cancer diagnosis. We caught up with the 63-year-old one year down the line, to hear the next chapter of his prostate cancer story. 

“Since my diagnosis, people on the tennis circuit have spoken to me about prostate cancer and in fact, some people didn’t know about it,” says John Lloyd, who went public with his prostate cancer for the first time in an exclusive video interview with us last year (see below).

John was feeling fit and healthy before a routine blood test in 2016 showed that his PSA level was higher than normal. A biopsy later revealed that he did indeed have prostate cancer. He had successful surgery, but is urging men across the country to learn from his experience and go for regular check-ups – even if they don’t have any symptoms.

“I’ve spoke to a lot of people and quite a few have said it’s something they don’t check because they haven’t had any symptoms. I’ve said: guess what – I haven’t had any either,” says John.

“I’ve told them to just get a test once a year. Whatever your doctor's suggest – just get it done.

“A lot of people have looked at it and are worried about it. I’m always very positive about the reactions to it and what happened, so that gives them a little bit of encouragement to actually get it done and not be scared of the consequences in case there was a diagnosis they didn’t like.”

John’s diagnosis made national headlines last year, and since then household names such as Stephen Fry and Bill Turnbull have joined him in sharing their prostate cancer stories with the world.

“When you get people that have a public platform in the media to get the message out and they’re prepared to do it, it just helps the cause,” John says.

“As much as I don’t like to hear that someone has it, I also think of the positive side – their message is going to help more people.”

Hereditary risk and the Wimbledon buzz

As we enter another tournament at the All England Club, John is focused on serving up more expert punditry from courtside, but admits he has an eye on something else – the hereditary risks associated with prostate cancer.

“I don’t think enough has been said about it,” he says. Because of John’s diagnosis, his son is two-and-a-half times more likely to get the killer disease himself.

“My son is aware of it now. It’s something that’s part of life for a male now – it’s just something you have to get checked.”

And as for Wimbledon?

“It’s the most important tournament of the year for a tennis player,” says John, who won back-to-back mixed doubles titles there in 1983 and 1984.

“Every year I go there and never know what’s around the corner – new stars, older ones trying to hang on. There’s always such a buzz in our sport when Wimbledon comes up.”