Steve was diagnosed with localised prostate cancer at just 49 after recognising his symptoms at a Prostate Cancer UK talk in his workplace. Now he wants to say thanks, and make sure other men around him know their risk.
The Halesowen-based casual cyclist is turning his lockdown leisure into a way to give back, as he joins Cycle The Month this August.
"We had a presentation at work about five years ago and someone from Prostate Cancer UK went over the symptoms. I realised I was getting up a fair bit more in the night, and I was a little concerned. I also started a new relationship in 2018, and throughout that year something was not quite right in bed” said Steve.
Steve’s father is of Caribbean origin which puts him, and his son, at a greater risk of prostate cancer. Knowing his risk and learning some of the symptoms led him to speak to his doctor.
"I'd sort of self-diagnosed, then in January 2019 I visited my GP. Each step during diagnosis – PSA test, MRI – confirmed that I wasn't a raging hypochondriac. In some ways, the diagnosis was a relief. Knowing meant we could do something about it.”
"I was 49 at the time, so my diagnosis was something of an unwanted early 50th birthday present. On the positive side, it did spur me on to get some of my 50th birthday bucket list cracked nice and early!"
Because of his age and the fact that Steve's cancer was contained in the prostate, he was recommended a radical prostatectomy - an operation to remove the prostate gland and tissues surrounding it.
"My recovery has been good, thanks to following the advice of the amazing NHS staff, who looked after me, and a great support network of friends and family."
After Steve’s recovery, his mind has turned to doing something positive to spread awareness. With lockdown measures in place and all fundraising events postponed, he needed something he could do close to home. Cycle The Month was perfect.
“Cycling 100 miles may sound daunting at first, but a few miles a day and it soon builds up. I'd not done more than maybe 50 miles a week for a long time before this year, but lockdown means I've built the miles steadily through the year. If I can do it, anyone can!”
"With all the help Prostate Cancer UK have given me, this seemed like a good opportunity to do something in return."
Speaking to others who’ve been through similar experiences was crucial for Steve when making decisions about his treatment, and now he wants to use this challenge as a way to send a message to other men.
"I spent a lot of time on the Prostate Cancer UK forums, which are a great source of information. In the end, I decided that the best option was the operation and pretty much everyone agreed. There was a fair bit of fear, as you're concerned about how aggressive it is, whether it's spread, and what the impact of the treatment will be, but at least you can have a go. I'm aware that my son will be more at risk due to his heritage. Cancer has affected us all in the past and I knew my family would be worried," he said.
“My partner, Louise, was brilliant, focusing on the positives and how we would work together to get through it, and Prostate Cancer UK has given me so much through my own journey with the disease. Cycle The Month seemed like a great way to do something in return.”
“I'll hopefully be able to beat my fundraising target but also field any questions from friends who have concerns. Because of my challenge, a friend's father is undergoing treatment for prostate cancer. He approached me and we've talked on a couple of occasions. I think having someone who’s been through it is great for a lot of men. We find it hard to talk about this sort of thing, but I'd like to think friends will talk to me. A good friend phoned me to discuss his symptoms and has since been to his doctor. Luckily, it wasn't cancer for him, but at least he knows he can talk to someone."
Steve isn’t alone. This August, people from all around the UK, of all abilities will Cycle The Month, and we’d love you to get involved.
Cycle 100 miles your way, over a day, a weekend, a week or across the whole month and help protect lifesaving research now at risk due to the COVID-19 crisis.