March is Prostate Cancer Awareness Month, and today’s blog is from an extremely inspirational man called Nigel. He has kindly agreed to share his experience of being diagnosed with prostate cancer to help us raise awareness and inspire others.

My journey started in May 2004 when I was told I had ‘inoperable, incurable, locally-advanced prostate cancer’ and that I would receive an appointment with the oncologist in a few days. That was all the support we had, so I am delighted we have managed to change that to today’s support system. I thought the diagnosis was the end – so bought a sports car on the way home!

I then underwent seven weeks of daily radiotherapy and a hormone treatment that changed me both physically and emotionally. But I managed to carry on working for a further three years until fatigue and a problem with concentration forced me to early retirement.

Quite quickly the hormone treatment began to fail and I was offered a place on a 14-month vaccine trial that I readily accepted. And it transformed my life. Although the trial failed, I chose to stay with the research team and have since undergone two more clinical trials with mixed success. It has been truly a roller-coaster ride of highs and lows and the cancer has now spread (metastasised) to my skull, right hip and lower spine and the tumour has blocked off my left kidney. However, I remain active and positive and hope that the immunotherapy research I support will provide an answer for others if not in time for me.

When I retired, I volunteered with Macmillan Cancer Support, CRUK and PCUK as a cancer voice giving talks and media interviews, reviewing publications and campaigning in parliament. I have appealed for new treatment at NICE and spoken with the UN in New York about non-communicable diseases prior to a world summit, which led to regular correspondence with the Prime Minster and government ministers.

In 2009, I opened the first Topic of Cancer local support group and we now have similar groups across the UK. Four years ago we extended the charity to raising funds and awareness in immunotherapy research at Surrey University.

I have walked from John O’Groats to Land’s End, published a book of poems called Light A Candle, jumped out of an aeroplane and met the public in a frock and heels to emphasise the effects of prostate cancer!

I am a Global Hero of Hope for CRUK Relay for Life and they presented me with their Flame of Hope award. I was also made a Macmillan Cancer Champion, and later given the Vicky Clement-Jones award. BBC Surrey and Sussex recently presented me with their Community Heroes ‘Outstanding Achievement’ award that led to a week of broadcasts raising awareness, and to our conversation being requested by the British Library for the National Archives. In 2014 I was presented with the MBE by HM The Queen at Windsor Castle for my services to cancer.

This is my personal journey, but I hope it will inspire others to grab the opportunity of a diagnosis to change their own life and the lives of others. Cancer is not the end but can instead be a wonderful beginning. So please stay active, fit and positive to help other and influence the future.

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