Prostate Cancer UK: Walking can save lives

“These events allow people to make every step count in the march against prostate cancer” – says Angela Culhane, CEO of Prostate Cancer UK, in the run up to ‘March for Men’, a series of walking events that are meant to raise awareness of the disease and raise money for the charity. We also spoke about her own walking experience and places you can visit after London’s March for Men that will take place on 17th June in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.

This summer Prostate Cancer UK is launching March for Men – a series of walking events raising money to help stop prostate cancer being a killer. This includes a trio of Local Walks across Father’s Day weekend, in London on June 17th and Leeds and Glasgow 24 hours later on 18th June. Sky Sports presenter Jeff Stelling is also walking 15 marathons in 15 days from Friday 2nd June. Jeff will set off from St James Park, the home of Exeter City, in an attempt to walk 400 miles and visit over 40 football clubs, reaching Newcastle United’s St James’ Park on Friday 16th June. The charity will also be encouraging supporters to hold their own marches across the country to try and raise £1 million through walking in 2017.

Why is Prostate Cancer UK organising these walks and how people can get involved?

We are organising these walks to raise awareness and vital funds in the fight against prostate cancer – the most common cancer in men. With 1 in 8 men being affected by this disease, most people’s lives, including my own, have been affected by prostate cancer which is why they should take part. The range of events means there’s something for everyone. Joining up to walk a marathon on one of the Jeff’s March for Men days is a fantastic experience, albeit quite a challenging one! You meet so many inspirational people along the way and there is a real sense of achievement when you complete the day. And the local marches will bring together hundreds of like minded supporters to unite against this terrible disease. Anyone can get involved through our website.

Prostate Cancer UK

Why do most people do the walk?

There’re so many stories that I have heard over the years, working at Prostate Cancer UK. Kevin Webber and Lloyd Pinder’s stories are particularly relevant for the March for Men. In 2014, at the age of 49, with a wife and three children, Kevin was diagnosed with prostate cancer and given just two years to live. However Kevin didn’t let this tragic news stop him. If anything his diagnosis spurred him on! He’s completed several races and marathons including the trans-Saharan Marathon Des Sables, twice, raising significant amounts for Prostate Cancer UK. Last year he joined Jeff Stelling for the final leg of his March and plans to join him again this year, walking the whole of the March. Kevin’s determination is truly remarkable and I really am proud to be walking alongside such incredible people like Kevin.

Lloyd Pinder is another extraordinary man. Married with two young children, Lloyd was diagnosed with terminal prostate cancer at the age of 43 and was told that he has 5-10 years to live. Since his diagnosis, he has taken part in Jeff’s March and plans to do so again this year. He also plans to walk with his friends and family at our Local March for Men in Leeds. Lloyd has worked really hard to spread awareness of prostate cancer and has also raised a substantial amount of money for us.

I believe people want to do the walk because of people like Kevin and Lloyd. They will tell you they are just ordinary men, yet they are an inspiration to all of us with the way they have continued to battle with such strength and dignity, despite all they are going through. These events allow people to make every step count in the march against prostate cancer.

Prostate Cancer UK

How many people have already signed up?

With Jeff’s March under way, over 600 people have now signed up. For the London March for Men, 662 people have signed up to march with us, in Leeds – 416 people have put their names down to walk and in Glasgow we’re expecting 274  to walk with us. We really are thrilled to have over a thousand people signed up to take part in our walking programme this year and we have already raised a significant amount of money, helping us to get even closer to our target of £1 million, which is fantastic news! A huge thank you is definitely in order for all of our supporters.

You are taking part in days 1, 9 and 15 of Jeff’s March for Men. What motivated and inspired you to walk?

I have a personal link to prostate cancer which motivates me to take part in Jeff’s March for Men. Both my step-father and father-in-law died from prostate cancer and I also have a husband and a son who have an increased risk of the disease as a result. I want to make sure that prostate cancer is a disease the next generation of men, like my son and other young men out there, need not fear. Here at Prostate Cancer UK, we have set ourselves the target of taming the disease within 10 years through better diagnosis and better treatment in particular, at the same time as improving support for men and searching for ways to prevent the disease. These are very ambitious targets, and making inroads into these areas will be expensive, which is why events like the March for Men series are crucial in helping us to raise the funds necessary for this research. Just hearing stories day in day out of men courageously battling this disease and the families who have sadly lost loved ones to prostate cancer brings home the need to fight back against this disease. Also my husband Ian has taken on the challenge of walking all 15 days of Jeff’s March. Whilst I can’t match that, the whole family is very committed to making the March for Men a success.  

Prostate Cancer UK

Angela Culhane, CEO of Prostate Cancer UK

As well as Jeff Stelling’s March for Men, Prostate Cancer UK’s walking programme also includes local marches, with one in London at the Olympic Park. Why did the charity choose the Olympic Park and why would you recommend it for a weekend walk?

Yes, our walking programme also includes a trio of local walks across Father’s Day weekend, in London on June 17th and Leeds and Glasgow 24 hours later on Father’s Day itself, Sunday 18th of June. We decided to organise the walk at the Olympic Park as this place is the home of so many incredible achievements, including gold medals and even world records, which I hope will inspire people to test their own limits and fundraise as much as they can. I would recommend the Olympic Park as a weekend walk as there is so much to see including the Olympic Stadium and the Olympic Village. There are also surprisingly lovely views of the surrounding river and parklands.

Do you know of any places or routes in the area that people can see after your event?

I would recommend taking a trip along The River Lea that runs through The Olympic Park. The banks of the River Lea have been done up beautifully, with a mirrored bridge, towpaths, wildflower meadows and a nature walk. You’re also not too far away from Victoria Park, which is a wonderful place to take a stroll. The Olympic Park is on London’s well-known six-mile Canal Walk, so from there you could follow the route and check out London’s canal system.

Prostate Cancer UK

What inspires or motivates you as an individual to walk?

My husband has always been into fitness and is a great motivator for me walking. Since deciding to take part in Jeff’s March, he has been walking regularly, taking every opportunity he can. At weekends, we have been walking between 10 and 15 miles, whenever we can. It’ been really fun and hopefully means we’re in reasonable shape for the challenge ahead. I definitely recommend a walking buddy; the time just flies by! Walking is also an easy way to just get out and about, discover new places and enjoy some fresh air.

Do you think walking has the power to save lives?

Yes most definitely. Many men diagnosed with prostate cancer, not only experience physical side effects, but psychological too. In many cases walking has been a huge help. Walking is also a great way for friends and communities to get together and do something wonderful and worthwhile.

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Feeling inspired after reading this post? You can still take part in the ‘March for Men’. Head to the Prostate Caner UK’s website to do this.

For more walking inspiration and events sign up to the mailing list below or check my Twitter.

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