Raising awareness about cancer and how to stay healthy

Our testicular and prostate cancer awareness event this week was a fabulous success with in excess of 65 attendees! Men of all ages came along to learn more about these diseases.

The idea behind the event was to empower men with a learning disability to take control of their own health. There is currently no screening program in the UK for either prostate cancer or testicular cancer. Diagnosis of testicular cancer relies on self-examination, and for prostate cancer it relies on self-reporting of symptoms or requesting a blood test from the GP. Raising awareness is key because, if caught early, both of these cancers have good treatment outcomes. How many men, for example, are aware that they can request a PSA test (to help diagnose prostate cancer) after the age of 50?

Men with a learning disability need access to this information too – and if it can be given in a fun and accessible way, so much the better! Our Bowling Balls awareness event did just that, giving them the extra support they need to take care of their own health.

The event was the brainchild of Maura Ireland, our Market Shaper & Contract Coordinator, alongside Hamid Mahmood, Deputy Manager and Timothy Tuft, Support Worker at Yarrow. Maura knows first-hand how hard it can be for men to talk about personal health:
“The men we support can be reluctant to talk about these issues, and we know they need the right support to understand the signs to watch out for. Otherwise men with learning disabilities could end up being unaware they have prostate or testicular cancer and will suffer poorer outcomes. We wanted to help educate this vulnerable group of people in a fun and accessible way, making it easier for them to get help and advice. Talking openly about these illnesses is so important, and this event really got the conversation started.”

We were joined on the day with two specialists from the Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust: Joanne Sethi, Clinic Nurse Specialist at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, gave a talk about prostate cancer. Vicki Morton-Davis, also a Clinical Nurse Specialist at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, gave a talk on testicular cancer.

Joanne Sethi stresses how important it is for men to have the knowledge they need to spot the signs of each disease:
“Diagnosis of both testicular and prostate cancer relies on men being proactive and seeking advice if they feel something is wrong. In the UK prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men, with more than 47,500 men being diagnosed every year and 1 in 8 men being diagnosed in their lifetime (1). There are around 2,400 new testicular cancer cases in the UK every year, which equates to more than six every day (2). That’s why it is so important that men with a learning disability and the people that support them are armed with the information they need to identify when something is not right, and what they should do if so.”

We were also lucky to be joined by a gentleman who had personally experienced testicular cancer. He shared his experience with the attendees, and his honest account of his diagnosis and treatment really hit home with everyone in the room. Our grateful thanks to him for his openness.

Attendees had lots of opportunity to ask questions and were also able to have confidential chats with the experts in a private room if they liked.

This fun event rounded off with lots of games including Fuseball, Air Hockey, Giant Jenga and Connect Four, as well as a giant bowling game! The fake moustaches (in honour of Movember) were very popular too! The atmosphere was wonderful, and the event turned into a real social occasion, with many staying on at the end to finish their conversations with new and old friends – and to polish off the rest of the cake.

It was a wonderful success, and we all came away inspired to run more awareness events like this in the future.

Our thanks to the Invention Rooms for the use of their excellent facilities and their help in making sure everything ran smoothly on the day, and to Turning Point for their generous support in helping to fund this event.

Previous posts