During the World Cup, Danny McLaughlin became something of a celebrity as a lookalike for England striker Harry Kane, appearing in newspapers and on ITV's Lorraine. But behind it all was a desire to tell his family story and warn others about prostate cancer, after recently losing his dad and grandad to the disease.
My dad [pictured with Danny and his brother below] was a great man and someone both me and my brother aspired to be like. He was a QPR season ticket-holder and London black cab driver. Taxiing and football were both huge passions for him.
When he started getting pain in his lower back, he didn’t think anything of it, assuming it was just his driving posture. Then it started hurting a lot more and he couldn’t get a doctor’s appointment.
After six weeks of trying, my Mum moved him to another doctor and he had a PSA blood test. He was eventually diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer at just 50 years old. It had already spread so far in his skeleton and none of the chemotherapy he had worked.
He had to stop working and eventually sell his cab. It was his pride and joy and he loved that job, having done ‘The Knowledge’ for years. The cancer and treatments affected his mobility and it was awful seeing the pain and suffering he was going through.
We ended up having to decide it was better for him to go into a hospice and receive round-the-clock help. That was a horrible decision to make as we’re a close-knit family and we didn’t want to take him out of our family home.
Visiting him in the final stages was horrible: he was so far gone and he really wanted to come home. We were helping him get dressed, walk about and shower.
It was horrible for my dad, too, as he had so much pride. He didn’t want anyone caring for him but he really respected us doing it. And helping him was nice – I know that sounds strange – as we got to do something together.
When ITV’s Lorraine gave me a platform ... what better way to use it than for Prostate Cancer UK, my dad, grandad and anyone affected by cancer?
In August 2016, a year after his diagnosis, Dad died. I was 24. It was an awful time for me and my family. I was in my last year at university with a dissertation to write, which made it even more difficult. Emotionally it was a rollercoaster as my grandad also died from prostate cancer just six months later.
So when ITV’s Lorraine gave me a platform recently, with millions of people watching, what better way to use it than for Prostate Cancer UK, my dad, grandad and anyone affected by cancer?
Years ago, when he wasn’t so prominent, my friends once said I looked like Harry Kane.
I never thought about it much, but then we were queuing up for this club in 2015 and suddenly there was a chant of “Harry Kane, give us a wave!”. I was looking about thinking: “Is he here?”.
Now with the World Cup and his golden boot, it’s just been crazy. People were asking for selfies in the pub, queuing up to get a photo with me and offering to buy me drinks.
More and more pictures and videos of me went on Twitter, so my sister-in-law tweeted the local newspaper for a joke and they wanted to meet. Then ITV News called, and the Star, and some local radio stations, before ITV’s Lorraine got in touch.
As soon as I realised I would get a bit of attention, I knew I wanted it to be about raising awareness and money for prostate cancer. I’ve done some charity events for Prostate Cancer UK, like the Royal Parks half marathon with my brother and a football tournament every August [pictured below], so I wanted any appearance fees to go towards them.
During all this crazy media circus, I’ve never lost sight of the reason I was doing it and who I was doing it for. I hope others can relate to my family’s story and it makes more people aware of the disease.