A FOREST Town mum has launched a campaign to raise awareness of prostate cancer after seeing the crippling effects of the condition which killed her father.
In the final year of his life, avid Stags’ fan Paul Kent lost half his body weight and nearly a foot in height as the cancer spread to his bones.
He became frail almost overnight as the aggressive cancer took hold and died four years after being diagnosed at the age of 66 in 2010.
Following the first anniversary of Paul’s death, his daughter Jeanette Whittaker (40) decided it was time to promote understanding of the condition, the most common cancer in men in the UK, and there was only one place to start.
“Field Mill seemed perfect because it was a place dad loved and also the kind of male dominated environment where we could raise money and awareness,” she said.
So Jeanette, husband Russ and other members of her family stood by the turnstiles with collection tins at Stags’ home game against Braintree Town on 3rd December.
The fundraising soon snowballed with Barry Coleman, a VIP syndicate member at Field Mill, and players like Matt Green all joining in to help out with shirt auctions and sponsorship.
Jeanette’s sons James (14) and Adam (16) took the campaign to their school, Brunts in Mansfield, where a non-uniform day and Christmas concert helped boost the total to around £2,000 in less than a month.
But for Jeanette, raising awareness of prostate cancer is even more important than money.
“If I can encourage just one man to get checked out and avoid what we went through it will have been worth it,” she said.
“If a woman finds a lump or a bump they tend to go to the doctor’s and get it checked. If a man finds one he will usually put it off.
“Yet we have routine screenings and men don’t. If there had been routine blood tests from the age of 50 it could have been different for my dad.”
Jeanette says her father, who was born in Walesby, had barely been sick a day in his life before being diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2006.
Three years later the cancer began to spread to his bones and became very aggressive.
“The final year the cancer was relentless,” Jeanette said. “We need to be more proactive in this country and get people educated about prostate cancer.”
The Prostate Cancer Charity, which will receive all the money Jeanette raises, says 37,000 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer every year in the UK and one man dies every hour from the condition.
A prostate cancer support group is being set up in Mansfield and for more information email email@example.com.
l For information visit www.prostate-cancer.org.uk