He was only looking for news about potential signings when lifelong Southend United fan Keith Smith realised he had symptoms of prostate cancer. Now we give him the chance to meet the man responsible for his early diagnosis.
A year ago, Southend United’s former manager Chris Powell was preparing to run the Virgin Money London Marathon for Prostate Cancer UK, and fan Keith Smith was drawn to an article about his training for the big day.
“I was looking at the Southend United website to see if there was any news on us signing a player, and I saw an article on there with Chris Powell regarding prostate cancer. I was looking through and reading about the symptoms, and I thought ‘that’s me, I’ve got one of them symptoms’. From there I looked it up further and eventually went to the doctor, and after a range of tests it was confirmed I had prostate cancer," said Keith.
“I knew very little about prostate cancer until a year ago. My dad had it, my uncle had it as well and I didn’t realise it was hereditary; I never realised I was such a candidate to get prostate cancer.”
It was during a scan that a cancerous kidney tumour was also spotted, and he has since had his kidney removed and begins brachytherapy treatment on his prostate cancer shortly.
“I’m so grateful to the work they’ve done. Without that, who knows where I’d have been in two years’ time?”
“I went to the Prostate Cancer UK website and there were all sorts of tools to help. At first, it took me a while to deal with it but I rang up one of the nurses and she talked me through everything," Keith recalls.
“It was around June and I was very concerned, and she asked me what my biggest worry was. I said I was worried if I’d be here at Christmas, and her response sticks with me to this day. She said: ‘Keith you’re going to be at this Christmas, next Christmas and for many Christmases after’. And every question I asked, she knew the answer to and that was really reassuring. Anyone that’s going through this process, I would say take up that option and give them a call.”
Smith was surprised by former manager Chris Powell ahead of a match in February with the emotional meeting captured on camera.
“I want to say thanks to Chris and Southend United,” said father-of-three Keith, whose two sons and daughter accompanied him to the game. “I’m so grateful to the work they’ve done. Without that, who knows where I’d have been in two years’ time?”
Since then Keith has been an advocate for the charity’s work by speaking to colleagues and handing out as many of the Prostate Cancer ‘Man of Men’ pin badges as possible. “It’s now a personal crusade for me and if I can save one person by my story that would make me really proud and happy,” he said.
Former boss Chris Powell, a long-standing supporter for the charity who raised more than £14,000 by completing the 2018 London Marathon, had correctly predicted the partnership would save lives when Southend launched Prostate Cancer UK as their shirt sponsors last summer.
“Stories like this makes the work with Prostate Cancer UK all worthwhile, it really does," said Powell. "It’s a cancer that affects men more than breast cancer affects women and we’ve got to just keep drumming home the message. For me to meet someone who has been affected by my message and what I’ve done, it’s just blown me away really and I’m deeply honoured.
“It’s a great moment for me and that’s why I’ll continue to hammer home the message and I want to make sure Southend fans and everyone else doesn’t stop driving that.”
This season Prostate Cancer UK is the official shirt sponsor of Southend United and raised over £1,150 in September at their home match with Charlton Athletic. This Saturday, Southend’s League One clash against Wycombe Wanderers marks the second match day collection of the campaign with supporters urged to dig deep and support our work.