Why this Phil Collins doppelganger is warning Lostock Hall people about prostate cancer

Chris Perry, a Phil Collins tribute act, and Tracy Evans, a Lostock Hall support worker, are raising awareness of prostate cancer.
Chris Perry, a Phil Collins tribute act, and Tracy Evans, a Lostock Hall support worker, are raising awareness of prostate cancer.
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A Phil Collins tribute act is teaming up with a Lostock Hall woman to warn men of the illness that took her father's life.


Chris Perry will highlight the dangers of prostate cancer when he brings his show, In the Air Tonight, to Lostock Hall Royal British Legion Club on Friday, October 11th. Doors will open to all members of the public from 7 - 7-15pm.

Chris is hosting his show, In the Air Tonight, to raise money for charity Tackle Prostate Cancer.He will perform at Lostock Hall Royal British Legion Club on Friday, October 11th.

Chris is hosting his show, In the Air Tonight, to raise money for charity Tackle Prostate Cancer.He will perform at Lostock Hall Royal British Legion Club on Friday, October 11th.

The superstar doppelganger has enlisted the help of South Ribble support worker Tracy Evans, whose father died of the illness just before her 18th birthday and within weeks of being diagnosed. The pair hope the event will not only raise money for charity Tackle Prostate Cancer but also encourage men to visit their doctors to be tested before it is too late.

The prostate is a small male sex gland at the base of the bladder, surrounding a tube called the urethra, which carries urine and semen to the end of the penis. As men age it becomes enlarged and can squeeze the urethra, reducing the flow of urine. This can cause problems with the prostate. Symptoms of cancer normally only appear in later stages and include difficulty in passing urine or frequent night-time visits.

Tracy said: "We need to raise awareness to help save more lives. Women have a national screening programme for cancer, so why don't men?

"My dad was a working man and one day he came home with pain and my mum booked him in at the doctors. They sent him to the hospital where he stayed, leaving my mother to take care of their 10 children on her own.

Sue Davenport, stewardess of Lostock Hall Royal British Legion Club, with Tracy and Chris.

Sue Davenport, stewardess of Lostock Hall Royal British Legion Club, with Tracy and Chris.

"When he was diagnosed, he had just a few weeks left to live. The cancer was found too late and that's why we need more awareness. It means a lot to support this event and I'm not just doing it for my dad but for other men too."

The illness is the most common type of cancer found in men, with more than 47,000 diagnoses annually in the UK, according to Tackle Prostate Cancer. Despite this, 54% of men don't know where their prostate is and 92% aren't aware of its role, according to the charity's survey of 3,500 participants.

The disease kills more people than breast cancer in the UK, with nearly 12,000 deaths per year. But it is generally curable in its infancy, when it has a wider choice of treatment options than any other cancer. But if it spreads to other organs or the bones, it can only be controlled.

Many men are also embarrassed or ashamed about being tested because they believe it is physically intrusive, Tracy said. But the initial screening is a simple blood test called Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA). It measures the level of a protein called prostate-specific antigen, which is made only by the prostate gland.

The singing sensation has so far raised thousands of pounds for Tackle Prostate Cancer by hosting his tribute shows.

The singing sensation has so far raised thousands of pounds for Tackle Prostate Cancer by hosting his tribute shows.

"I don't want men to be ashamed. I want them to talk about it," she added.

"There's always someone available to support them, even if it's just a chat on the phone."

That's why charity ambassador Chris is using the magic of comedy and music to spread his message. The singer, who discovered the simplicity of the screenings for himself when he had one done, hopes the show will take the fear out of being tested.

He said: "I thought the examination was going to be really physical so in the run up I was sweating, going white and having sleepless nights. But the doctor rolled up my sleeve and took a blood test.

"They're not readily available and you have to ask your GP for one so I think the Government should become more involved in early treatment."

He added: "One of my best friends let us put on a show at his club and it motivated him to have tests done, which showed he had early signs of cancer. That's why I'm so determined to put the message out there and it means the world to me to do this.

"My friend said his whole world fell apart and he's a tough bloke. But because it was caught early he said he couldn't thank me enough and that's why I do it. He's getting treatment now and the cancer can be zapped.

"The worst part about it is you've no physical signs in the early stages. You need to wee a bit more but as a bloke you don't want to talk about your waterworks and you put it down to a million different things.

"The signs sometimes are everyday occurrences - your back hurts, you're weeing a bit more - but before you know it, you have secondary or third stage cancer and that's a nightmare.

"I didn't know much about the disease but now you hear about stars like Elton John, Rod Stewart or journalist Bill Turnbull coming out and saying they have it. Like any cancer, it doesn't take any prisoners and even now it's still a bit of a taboo.

"One in eight men develop prostate cancer. That's a crazy statistic. It's totally scary. People don't like to mention the C-word and think, 'now I've got it, it's the end.' So we do the shows in a way that's funny and informative and people have thanked me for talking about it in a way that's not all doom and gloom."

On the charity's website, Dr Chris Parker, a consultant in clinical oncology, said treatment options for prostate cancer are perhaps more complex than in any other major cancer.

That's why the charity points people towards a choice of around 100 support groups across the country, including The Walnut Group in Ribbleton, which helps sufferers and their loved ones to make decisions about treatment. Members have had surgery, chemotherapy, radiotherapy and hormone treatments, and experienced problems like incontinence and erectile dysfunction.

Colin Piddington, the chairperson, said: "When you're first diagnosed, you become buried in information and it doesn't make a lot of sense when you're trying to process the fact you have cancer. So we help people make decisions about treatment and keep in touch all the way through the journey.

"Carers also worry as much, if not more than, the men, and people think they will be dead tomorrow. We try to have a forward-looking view and no-one talks about the end of the road."

But one of the biggest issues the group faces is the reluctance of some GPs to carry out PSA tests, added Colin, who says he has argued with doctors about it.

John Coleman, the charity's North-West regional coordinator, said: "The rule in the UK is the doctor is supposed to give you a PSA test if you request one and you are over 50. If your mum has had breast cancer or father had prostate cancer, the age is 45.

"But GPs generally are not up-to-date on the latest research on prostate cancer and some are reluctant to carry out PSA tests due to over-treatment in the past."

According to Chris Booth, a member of the charity's Clinical Advisory Board, many GPs refuse to do them, even for men at high risk, as they believe non-aggressive forms of the disease are being over-diagnosed. But medical advances now make this an outdated argument, he added.

PSAs also remain controversial because prostate cancer research is underfunded and urological training for GPs is insufficient, he said.

According to the NHS website, the test can miss about 15% of cancers, provide false reassurance, lead to unnecessary worry and examinations and cannot tell the difference between slow-growing and fast-growing cancers. It also says about three in four men with a raised PSA level will not have cancer.

But right now, Colin believes the examination is the best weapon we have in fighting the illness, as he says most research into alternatives is 10 years away before it's of use to the general public.

And for Chris and Tracy, the priority is making the most of any help that's available.

"If a guy came to my show he might have second or third stage cancer but at least if he found out, he could live his life accordingly," Chris said.

"If it helps one person I'd be happy, because then it'd all be worth it."

The tribute night will include a raffle, DJ and lighting set by James Fish, and the sale of badges and wristbands. Entry is free but donations are welcome.

For more information visit www.tackleprostate.org and for support contact The Walnut Group on 07928 151 162 or info@thewalnutgroup.co.uk