It’s been four years since Andrew Williams from Ferryside was given the news he had prostate cancer. And this week, he is helping to raise awareness among other men as Prostate Cymru celebrates its 20th anniversary.
The charity, which was set up in 2003, is hosting a special event at which Welsh artist and charity ambassador Nathan Wyburn is set to unveil a bespoke piece of artwork.
The piece – to be revealed at National Museum Wales Cardiff – is designed to celebrate the charity’s 20-year history, raise awareness and to reinforce the message that it is not an “old man’s disease”. Made up of small images, sent in by those who have been diagnosed with prostate cancer, those working on the frontline to improve services for men in Wales and those who have raised vital funds, the artwork highlights the risk of developing prostate cancer rises rapidly after the age of 50.
Reinforcing the message that prostate cancer isn’t an “old man’s disease”, Andrew was just 51 when he was diagnosed:
“I’d noticed I was going to the loo a lot and decided I should go see my GP. They carried out a PSA test which is a blood test which measures the levels of prostate-specific antigen and a very quick physical examination. It isn’t painful; it’s just a little uncomfortable. The results came back and my GP wanted to carry out further tests.
“A biopsy at hospital followed and I hoped I’d just have an enlarged prostate and be cancer-free but discovered I had three tumours in my prostate.
“Fortunately, it was caught early and I had surgery to have the prostate removed.”
That was in December 2019 and, after everything he had been through, he noticed his father was also having symptoms of urinating often:
“He was in his 80s and didn’t want to talk about it. He was diagnosed during Covid and so things were delayed. Unfortunately, he died because of it in November 2021. It had already spread to his bones.”
Andrew believes there is a family history of the disease on his father’s side of the family. And with four sons of his own who are now aged, 27, 25 and twins who are nine years old, he is eager to “hammer the message home,”:
“One in eight men in Wales will develop prostate cancer but this risk rises to one in three with a family history of the disease so I do worry about the next generation and that’s why I’ve made my sons aware that they need to get tested. And in fact, they’ve dropped the testing age to 45 if there is a family history of prostate cancer.”
He has also joined the Carmarthenshire Friends of Prostate Cancer to help raise awareness and “to get people’s attention of the risks. My Dad wasn’t one of the lucky ones. It’s important that we catch it early and that’s why I’ll speak to anyone who’ll listen. And it’s important to speak to women too as they can encourage their friends and family to go get tested.”
Tina Tew, CEO of Prostate Cymru, explains:
“Prostate cancer is still the most common cancer in men in Wales with one in eight men developing it. And there is still this misconception that this disease only affects old men and it simply isn’t the case. We need more men to understand their risk and get themselves tested, particularly as prostate cancer doesn’t usually show any symptoms in its early stages. If you’re at higher risk, which includes all men over the age of 50, we urge you to speak to your GP and get tested.”
To further celebrate its 20 years anniversary, Prostate Cymru is also shining a light on the disease by lighting up castles across Wales in blue on 15 May.
To find out more, visit www.prostatecymru.com