Prostate Cancer support Group urges men to get checked out

on Friday, 02 March 2018. Tags cancer, Cancer Support, CancerCare, Kendal, Lancaster, North Lancashire, Prostate cancer, Slynedales, South Lakeland, Stephen Fry

More men are dying from prostate cancer than women from breast cancer

For the first time, more men are dying from prostate cancer each year than women are from breast cancer in the UK. We look at what the Bay Prostate Cancer Support Group is doing to raise awareness and hear personal stories of people affected by the disease during Prostate Cancer Awareness Month in March


Surviving prostate cancer was the catalyst for Den Bray to set up a special support group for men in the Morecambe Bay area.

Den, who lives on Scale Hall in Lancaster, says it is hugely important that men are aware of prostate cancer and act quickly if they have concerns.

Early diagnosis and treatment can be life-savers for men with prostate cancer as the members of the Bay Prostate Cancer Support Group are keen to stress.

Den, who is chairman of the group, said: “It’s best to get checked out because if it is prostate cancer, it’s not going to go away.

“When you are first diagnosed all you hear is ‘cancer’. Everything else goes out of your mind. You think you’re going to die.

“However, it’s not all doom and gloom. Life goes on.

“Our group’s main reason for being is to spread awareness and we will talk to anyone who needs us.

“At our monthly meetings we usually have a speaker and then we just have a chat over tea and sticky buns. It’s very informal.”

When Den was diagnosed with prostate cancer he needed to have a radical prostatectomy (the surgical removal or all or part of the prostate gland).

He said: “Everything was taken out during the so called ‘open surgical procedure’ as opposed to the robotic surgery which is the current method. It was the best option for me.

“I was in hospital for ten days. This was back in 2005. The current robotic surgery means quicker recovery and hospital stay is now down to three days. I needed to do pelvic floor exercises to help with my bladder control post operation. The exercises sorted it out.

“It was a great relief when the operation was over. I don’t have cancer now. I have a PSA test (a blood test that can help diagnose prostate problems) every six months to keep a check on it. I’ve had no health issues at all. Everyone is different.”

Den had his operation in 2005 and went on to set up the group in 2006.

The group came into existence following a suggestion from Den’s Cancer Nurse Specialist (CNS), Alison Scott, to whom Den had given a record of his diagnostic journey. Alison felt there was a need for more support.

Three clinicians - CNS Alison Scott, Steve Douglas and the prime mover, Dr Alison Birtle Consultant Clinical Oncologist - circulated their database of prostate patients and this led to the first meeting.

Den with members of the Bay Prostate Cancer Support Group at a recent talk by the High Sheriff of Lancashire, Robert Webb

More than 70 people attended that first meeting at Slynedales on Slyne Road in Lancaster.

Den said: “I was pleased to see all the people at the meeting.

“Lots of people still come. We have a great rapport with the urology and oncology departments.

“When people come along to the group we don’t know what they are going to take from it.

“Whether it’s a radical prostatectomy, chemotherapy, radiotherapy, hormone treatment or some other treatment that they are going through, we’ve had someone in the group who has had that treatment.

“There are so many different treatments nowadays. We can reassure patients and their partners because it affects the relationships within the family and help them to get through it.”

Graham Marsh from Bolton-le-Sands, secretary of the group and a retired chemist from Heysham Power Station, said: “I got to know about the group through the hospital; the cancer nurse specialists made me aware of it.

“We all live for the day and enjoy each other’s company at our meetings.

“It’s a good, friendly group. We’re cheerful and chatty. There is tremendous experience in terms of people’s backgrounds.”

Neil Townsend, Chief Executive of CancerCare, has had personal experience of prostate cancer.

Neil explained: “Back in 1996, I can remember being with my dad when he was told he had prostate cancer and as a result of ‘burying his head in the sand’ it had spread to his bones and that he would die fairly quickly.

“He did die some six months later, having just celebrated his 70th birthday. I was 34 years old at the time. It did not appear to us at the time that any form of support was available, so like you do, we just got on with the situation as a family.

“I think my dad would have been immensely proud to see my career path develop and chuffed to learn that I would end up utilising my skills in my role here at CancerCare as its chief executive officer.”

Neil is delighted that the Bay Prostate Cancer Support Group meets at CancerCare’s Slynedales centre. He is pleased to be able to support the group’s important work.

Neil added: “I look at the tremendous work that the Bay Prostate Cancer Support Group does completely voluntarily, not only in supporting clinical trials, but in offering practical support to each other.

“They achieve so much together and, indeed, do all they can to live with and beyond this particular cancer.

“I often smile and would like to think that my dad would have really benefitted from such a group, had one been around.

“I am sure it would have given him the drive to be positive and above all else, he would have loved the friendship on offer.

“Like all our support groups, the Bay Prostate Group is a key part of our CancerCare family, at the forefront of helping, supporting and shaping the way in which prostate cancer is treated.”

For more information on the Bay Prostate Cancer Support Group, or if you would like Den to come and talk to you or your groups please contact Den Bray on 07989 232 039, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or go to

Information and support is also available on the CancerCare website or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.