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Running to raise cancer awareness

DETERMINED: Chris Powell wants black men to be aware of their risk of getting prostate cancer

FORMER ENGLAND left-back and current Southend United FC manager, Chris Powell, will stand alongside former politician and equalities tsar, Trevor Phillips, to lead a four-man team in this Sunday’s Virgin London Marathon in a bid to raise awareness of the increased risk of prostate cancer in black men.

In the UK, one in four black men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime – double the one in eight risk faced by white men. However, only 14 per cent of black men are aware of the higher than average risk they face.

Brixton community radio DJ, DJ Disciple, and prostate cancer survivor, Thomas Kagezi, will complete the One in Four Marathon team to signify the harsh statistics. On Sunday (April 22), the four runners will pound the pavements across the capital’s world famous 26.2-mile course to encourage more black men to wise up to their risk of prostate cancer and speak to their GP about the disease.

Powell, 48, has been a long-time supporter of Prostate Cancer UK and can often
be seen wearing the charity’s iconic Man of Men pin badge on touchlines throughout the UK.

He said: “As a black man over the age of 45, I am all too aware that my risk of prostate cancer is significantly higher than that of a white man the same age. However, I am in a distinct minority, with an astonishing 86 per cent of black men in the UK blind to the significant danger that prostate cancer poses to their life.

"I’m determined to do my bit to change these statistics for the better which is why I’m running the marathon this year. I’m proud to be running alongside three remarkable men with the same ambition. I’ve never competed in anything like this before and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous.

“But knowing that we’re getting the word out there will make every mile worthwhile. Together I know we can make a difference.” Former chairman of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, Trevor Phillips, 64, who is widely renowned for his work in television and politics, lost his brother-in-law to the disease.

PICTURED: Trevor Phillips

He said: "For me this is so much more than a memorial run. We want to make a song and dance about this disease, because the fat is that a wider awareness of prostate cancer will save lives, many thousands of them.

The reluctance of men to talk to their doctor about issues ‘down below’ has meant that fathers, brothers and sons left us before their time; and let’s face it, this reluctance seems to be a bigger issue for black men than for others.

“The fact that the four of us can all claim the same heritage and that we are ready to put ourselves to some sort of trial will, we hope, persuade many of our brothers to overcome their shyness and take control of their own health.”

Thomas Kagezi was diag- nosed with prostate cancer in 2016 and has undergone successful treatment. As the only man with prostate cancer in the team, Thomas represents the one in four black men who, like him, are confronted with a diagnosis within their lifetime.

Tony Wong, Prostate Cancer UK’s Men at Risk Programme Manager, said: “Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men and the disease claims the lives of one man every 45 minutes in the UK. However, if the disease is caught at an early stage there is a 98 per cent survival rate beyond 10 years."

It is not clear why black men face a higher than average risk of prostate cancer but it is widely thought that genetics could be an underlying factor. The PSA blood test is the first step towards diagnosis and black men are encouraged to start speaking to their GP about the test from the age of 45 – five years earlier than other men.

To donate to the One in Four Marathon Team go to charity/prostatecancer/oneinfour

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