Charity Apple raising awareness of prostate cancer in Redbridge
- Credit: Archant
It is well known that men can be reluctant to visit their GPs, putting off booking appointments when they feel unwell or have unusual symptoms.
But although in many cases they will be suffering from minor illnesses, sometimes the problems are indicative of a serious condition.
Prostate cancer is one of the biggest killers of men, a disease which is often symptomless in the beginning.
Early diagnosis offers a wider treatment choice than any other cancer and this is where charity Apple comes in.
Known in full as the Association of Prostate Patients in London and Essex, the organisation was founded in Redbridge 15 years ago by the late Sam Chaplain, a former headteacher who had suffered from the condition.
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Chairman Ken Mastris, 67, from Clayhall, joined after being treated for prostate cancer 10 years ago.
He said: “I hadn’t known anything about prostate cancer – I didn’t know what the prostate did.
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“I thought if I don’t know about it, there must be other people out there who don’t either.”
Apple was founded to inform, educate and support people.
It holds fundraising events, awareness days at King George Hospital, in Goodmayes, and monthly meetings, which sometimes feature speakers.
Trained volunteers can also ring patients or meet them in person.
Ken said: “The main thing is awareness and to support people who have been diagnosed. We don’t want them to suffer in silence.”
A range of treatments are available, depending on which stage the patients’ cancer is in, but the chairman believes many are not being educated enough on the alternatives to surgery.
“There are many side effects to think about and they should be offered all of the options when asked to make a choice.
“I always say to medical people that they should treat the cancer, but treat the patient first.”
Apple has between 20 and 30 regular members, but about 60 people on its list.
Ken would like to see screening for those at risk of the disease, but said it is not on the cards at the moment.
A significant part of Apple’s role is, and will continue to be, educating younger generations.
Ken said: “We need to raise awareness with people who may have it in the future. We also need women to get their partners to a doctor if they have symptoms.
“It is about spreading the message.”
Visit appleprostate.co.uk. For national charity Tackle’s free helpline, call 0800 035 5302.
The experience of John Burton, 58
“I joined Apple two or three years ago. I wanted to raise awareness of prostate cancer because I had it at a young age.
“Most people think of prostate cancer as an old man’s disease, but I was 48.
“I had a health check which included a PSA test, to see if there could be cancer in my prostate. I didn’t have any symptoms.
“I had a number of other tests, a biopsy and an examination. “About six to nine months later, I was told I had cancer in my prostate.
“It was quite a shock. I was offered surgery or radiotherapy and I opted for surgery.
“You don’t know how fast the cancer is going to grow and I just wanted to get rid of it.
“I was in hospital for a few weeks and made a good recovery.
“I went back to work, but when I retired I wanted to help other men and was told by someone about Apple.
“It gives you somewhere to talk to people who have been through it as well.”