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Errol McKellar, 56, from Hackney, was diagnosed with the disease in 2010 following a visit to his doctor’s to treat his snoring.
“I had a medical when I was 50 for my life insurance, and my prostate levels were fine.Three years later, I went to see the doctor because my wide had been complaining about my snoring for the past two years.”
“Whilst waiting, something prompted me to pick up a leaflet on prostate cancer.I had the ten-minute PSA (prostate-specific antigen) blood test. A couple of weeks later, the doctor called me to say I could be at risk of prostate cancer and wanted to run some more blood tests, which confirmed my diagnosis.”
The father-of-two was told that if he had not visited the doctor that day, he would have been ‘dead within six months’.
After undergoing an operation to remove his prostate and undergoing three months of radiotherapy, Errol was given the all clear in February 2011, and now campaigns for awareness for the disease.
Cases of prostate cancer in black men are two-thirds higher than in white men. Researchers have yet to define a reason for these lopsided incidence rates, but their data suggests that diet, genes and hormones all play a part in the development of the cancer.
The mechanic, who runs a garage said he was ‘happy to be alive’. “I tell people that this is something that goes on inside of you. I thought the symptoms were normal. There is ignorance with black men, so I am campaigning to tell 100 men a day to get their prostate checked.”
As an incentive for other black men to get tested, McKellar offers discounts to those who provide proof that they have done so.
Out of his initiative, 27 men have been diagnosed with prostate cancer and have been referred for treatment over a four-year period.
McKellar said, “I am happy to tell my story. Men, especially black men, need to get themselves checked. It only takes ten minutes, but once the cancer goes into your bones, it’s too late. I talk to both men and women about this situation. It is seen as a taboo, a subject people don’t want to talk about. “
“Please don’t leave it to chance. I wouldn’t be here if my wife hadn’t made me go to the doctor’s.”