Printed Date: 14/04/2024

Prostate Awareness Month

 

According to the charity Prostate Cancer UK, one in eight men will be diagnosed with the condition and the risk is higher if you’re black, over the age of fifty or your father or brother has had it.

Lewisham resident Jeff Thompson knows this only too well. He was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2018 and was so distressed at the news that he attempted suicide. “But then I thought, ‘Cancer didn’t kill me, why did I try to take my own life?’ That was the turning point – I decided I would help other men in my situation.”

Discovering that Afro-Caribbean males are more likely to be affected by prostate cancer – figures suggest that one in four will suffer from the condition – he started a support group for black men that meets monthly at Glass Mill Leisure Centre in Lewisham.

But the need for support has proved so great that Thompson’s not-for-profit organisation ‘Cancer Don’t Let it Win’ has expanded to offer peer-to-peer sessions in Peckham, Croydon, Bermondsey and even Brighton. He estimates that he has helped more than 2,000 men in the last five years.

“We’re empowering men to be resilient,” he explains. “Prostate problems are very difficult for men to talk about because it’s all tied in with their feelings about their own masculinity. But talking is the first step to healing. I’ve seen grown men break down in tears. They say, ‘I’m crying because at last I’ve found a safe space where I can share my feelings.’”

Group members are also encouraged to exchange ideas on coping with side effects of cancer treatment which can include incontinence and impotence. Wives and families are also invited to join sessions and share their own worries about husbands, fathers, brothers and sons.

Thompson speculates that King Charles – who recently suffered a prostate ‘scare’ - will be feeling relief that his problems are benign along with worry for the future. “I would like to tell him that we’re all in this together as men,” he concludes. “There is always a silver lining and there is always hope. Millions of men all over the world admire him for opening up about something that is taboo.”

Matthew Houghton, Community Sports Manager for Lewisham, comments, "We're proud to support local community groups on their journey to health and wellbeing. We wish King Charles a speedy recovery.

Find out more about Jeff Thompson’s support groups at www.cancerdontletitwincic.com

 

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