As Prostate Cymru celebrates its 20th anniversary this week, Welsh artist and charity ambassador Nathan Wyburn is set to unveil a specially commissioned 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.Wyburn, Prostate Cymru Ambassador explained:
“I’m really excited to be part of this project. Learning more about the facts relating to prostate health has been a real eye opener. Every 45 minutes a man in the UK dies of prostate cancer, so it is likely that, at some point, I and others will know someone affected.”
“The piece I’ve created has been made up of hundreds of photos, many sent in by the public that have been affected by prostate cancer in Wales or have worked with the charity. It will symbolise promise and what has been achieved over the last 20 years but also reinforces the message that this isn’t an old man’s disease. From the age of 50, men need to go to their GP and get tested.”
Significant work has been achieved since the charity was set up in 2003. Following a petition from Prostate Cymru, the Welsh Government agreed to fund the £2.5 million Da Vinci robot through its Health Technology fund and with assistance from Cardiff University. Prostate Cymru has funded the training of surgeons in the use of the equipment which has helped hundreds of patients since it was installed in 2014.
But Tina Tew, CEO of Prostate Cymru, says there is much more to do:
“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.”
In celebrating the landmark, Prostate Cymru has also revealed future plans which include a new outreach programme. A mobile vehicle, manned by specialist cancer nurses, will be on hand to provide support and advice. The charity is also keen to open the conversation with high-risk groups including Afro-Caribbean communities in which the risk of developing prostate cancer rises significantly to one in four men.
Chris Jones, former weather presenter for S4C, was 53 when he was diagnosed with early- stage prostate cancer:
“I was diagnosed with an enlarged prostate in 2015 after having symptoms like urinating frequently and with urgency, weak flow and I had blood in the urine too and several water retention episodes. I had my prostate cancer diagnosis three years later in 2018 – it’s now actively monitored with regular PSA tests and MRI scans and I tell my story because I want to do what I can to encourage others to go and get a test. We need men to be more proactive and to spread the word to others as prostate cancer is the biggest cancer death in men.”
Ian Booth from Porthcawl was also diagnosed with early-stage prostate cancer. A fit golfer and at the age of 56, it came as a complete shock. It is now 12 months since his surgery and he is keen to raise awareness among men in middle age:
“To go and get tested just takes a few minutes out of your life – but it could save your life. I had absolutely no symptoms and went to the GP about something totally unrelated and I ended up discovering I had cancer. I am a relatively fit guy and, as my best mate has said, ‘If Boothy can get it, we all could.’”
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.