A unique exhibition at next weekend’s Simmer Down Festival will unveil the prized possessions of a series of famous faces as they pledge their support to Prostate Cancer UK’s flagship Stronger Knowing More campaign.
The men’s health charity will be showcasing items of strength from the likes of Joleon Lescott, former Wolves goalkeeper Matt Murray, and the first ever black player to play for England, Viv Anderson, in a bid to raise awareness of the increased risk of prostate cancer in black men.
The exhibition, which coincides with Ethnic Minority Cancer Awareness Month, will also showcase sentimental possessions from a number of men who have either been personally affected by prostate cancer, or family members who have lost loved ones to the disease in celebration of how black communities have found the strength to face prostate cancer in their lives. Its aim is to get people talking about the most common cancer in men and taking action.
One in four black men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime and one in 12 will die from the disease. However, Prostate Cancer UK warns that over three quarters of black men (86%) are oblivious to the heightened danger they face, leaving them susceptible to being diagnosed at a late stage when the disease has already spread to other parts of the body.
Lescott, who came through the ranks at Wolverhampton Wanderers and also represented Aston Villa and West Bromwich Albion, played 26 times for his country and has donated one of those caps to the exhibition.
He said: “Hearing the statistic that one in four black men will be affected by prostate cancer shocked me, and it’s something we need to step up and do something about.
“I’ve seen managers wearing the charity’s pin badge and seen the great work the charity has been doing, and it’s brilliant to be able to donate something so personal to me and make such a positive statement.
“Playing for your country is the pinnacle for any player and I cherished every moment of wearing the Three Lions’ shirt. I always had faith in my ability but I’m proud of what I have achieved in the game. There are many ups and downs but it’s sometimes good to stop and take stock. This cap represents playing at the highest level; it’s what I aspired to do - and achieved. This is a great initiative from Prostate Cancer UK and I’m proud to team up with them.”
Matt Murray has donated his play-off winning shirt from the 3-0 win against Sheffield United at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium in May 2003, which saw the Molineux men promoted to the top flight for the first-time in 19 years.
Dubbed ‘the best goalkeeper England never had’ following his retirement through injury, Murray kept the shirt that he wore as a 22-year-old keeper in a man-of-the-match performance against the Blades.
He added: “Prostate cancer is not an issue to be taken lightly. Last year I walked alongside Soccer Saturday legend Jeff Stelling during his almighty walking challenge in aid of Prostate Cancer UK. I was also proud to walk with my good friend and Wolves club doctor, Matt Perry, who was treated for the disease in 2014. Along the way we met many others with similar experiences and listened to their stories of determination, strength and survivorship.
“I’m delighted to be supporting Stronger Knowing More and shining a light on a disease that is all too often swept under the carpet and ignored – especially in the black community. I’m donating the shirt that I wore during the best performance of my career.
“During my time at Wolves it didn’t matter how nervous I was before a match, as soon as I put on my shirt I felt like I could take on anything. I hope this shirt brings others the strength and courage it brought me during that memorable match in 2003.”
Other celebrities donating items at this weekend’s exhibition include Anderson, former Birmingham City captain Michael Johnson, and Chris Powell, who had playing and coaching spells in the East Midlands with Leicester City and Derby County.
Prostate Cancer UK’s Stronger Knowing More campaign aims to inspire black men to face their risk of prostate cancer by having the courage to talk to their doctor and spread the word, so that the disease is picked up earlier and treated in time. Celebrities that have already pledged their support include Benjamin Zephaniah, Linford Christie and David Haye.
It is not clear why black men face a higher than average risk of prostate cancer but it is widely thought that genetics could be an underlying factor. The PSA blood test is the first step towards diagnosis and black men are encouraged to start speaking to their GP about the test from the age of 45 – five years earlier than other men.
Tony Wong, Prostate Cancer UK’s Men at Risk Programme Manager said: “As a black man myself I am all too aware of the long-standing taboos that surround prostate cancer within our communities. Too many men continue to let pride get in the way of their health and it’s putting their lives at risk.
“We’re delighted to be at this year’s Simmer Down festival. Our exhibition will showcase stories of strength from celebrities, men living with prostate cancer and families who have lost loved ones to the disease. It’s a celebration of how black communities have found the strength to face prostate cancer in their lives.
“We’re calling on black men everywhere to find the strength to overcome any embarrassment and find out about their prostate cancer risk. If prostate cancer is caught early it can be successfully treated - a two minute chat with your GP could save your life.”
Prostate Cancer UK will be displaying its Stronger Knowing More exhibition from 12:30pm to 7:20pm at the Simmer Down Festival in Handsworth Park on Sunday 23rd July 2017. Specialist nurses will be on hand to provide information to any men with questions or concerns about the disease.