THE saying goes “It’ll never happen to me” and for one dad-of-two that was exactly what he thought when his friend was diagnosed with prostate cancer.
Derek Hartley (52), of Wheatley Lane Road, Barrowford, was an active gym-goer who considered himself to be fit and healthy.
He had no health problems or symptoms that caused him to worry - so a trip to the doctors was not high on his list of priorities.
But it was only thanks to the constant encouragement and persuasion from his wife Sandra and daughters Jessica (23) and Laura (22), that Derek took the decision to get himself checked out.
The decision more than likely saved his life and he now wants to encourage more men to be aware of the silent cancer that creeps up and steals the lives of so many.
The self-employed painter and decorator said: “I had no reason to get checked but my daughters Jessica and Laura kept nattering me to do it because a friend had been diagnosed with it. I had a prostate specific antigen blood test which came back at 6.3 and in January 2010 I had the biopsy.
“When I went to Airedale Hospital they told me I had cancer. I was absolutely devastated. That’s the worse part of it - to be told you have cancer. My family understandably were very upset about it all because they just thought the worse. It’s scary because I had no symptoms.”
Derek was one of the lucky few who caught it early. Although 37,000 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer every year, a further 250,000 men are currently living with the disease.
It is the most common cancer in men and many do not even know they have it until it is too late. Although in most cases it is slow-growing to start with, some men will have a more aggressive or “high risk” cancer which needs treatment to help prevent it spreading outside the prostate gland.
Derek added: “My prognosis was pretty good, all the cancer was contained in my prostate so it hadn’t spread. Luckily the cancer was in its early stages and I was therefore able to have keyhole surgery to remove my prostate.
“I had so much fantastic help from my family and friends and the care from the NHS has been fantastic.”
Derek who is a keen runner now wants to raise the profile of the disease. And to show his appreciation for the care he has received, he will run next month’s Great Manchester Run for the Prostate Cancer Charity.
Although it will be the ninth time he has run the 10k distance he says that on Sunday, May 15th, it will be much more poignant because of his experience and hopes to complete it in less than 45 minutes.
“I feel like I wanted to give something back and make a difference as I now know what great work the charity does for patients.
“I want people to be aware of prostate cancer and to raise as much money as possible for the charity. I know quite a lot of people who have had it and although it did take quite a bit of persuasion for me to go, I was fortunate so I urge other men to be checked.”
A year on and Derek’s blood count has now gone down to 0.03 and although he is feeling fitter than ever he says the cancer will always be in the back of his mind.
“My operation was a success and after 3 months of recovering I finally felt fit enough to return to work - however you can never allow yourself to get too confident.”
To sponsor Derek please visit www.justgiving.com/derek-hartley