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Ernie speaks out about cancer scare

PUBLISHED: 17:03 06 November 2010 | UPDATED: 10:12 08 November 2010

A GREAT Yarmouth artist is using his brush with bowel cancer to challenge a reluctance among men to visit the doctor and confront their symptoms.

A GREAT Yarmouth artist is using his brush with bowel cancer to challenge a reluctance among men to visit the doctor and confront their symptoms.

Ernie Childs, 63, ignored his cancer screening test for months. It was only when his wife Karen pressured him into doing the test that he found out he had cancer and was able to get life-saving treatment.

The grandfather-of-five, who runs Great Yarmouth Potteries, said: “I’m a bit of a workaholic and, being self-employed, the last thing I want to do is take time out to sit in a doctor’s waiting room.

“I’m glad my wife made me do the test. I had an inkling it was going on, but if I hadn’t had the test when I had I wouldn’t be here.”

He also admitted that the only reason he is speaking out so publicly about the issue, is because the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital asked him to help raise awareness and, like many men, his initial reaction had been to keep his illness a secret.

He said: “I didn’t tell anyone but my wife, I wanted to keep it a secret.

“But they were brilliant at the hospital in Norwich and they sorted me out – so it’s the least I can do.

“I have a second chance and I spend a little more time with the grandchildren and I now swim 80 lengths every morning whereas I did nothing before.

“It’s been a life-changing experience.”

Men’s cancer campaigner Mel Lacey, a former police officer, is working with the trustees of the Pink Ribbon Foundation, which raises funds for breast cancer, to launch a Blue Ribbon Foundation to raise awareness of prostate cancer.

The 62-year-old was only diagnosed with prostate cancer after a friend who had the disease suggested he should request a PSA (prostate specific antigen) test because of his age.

He said: “Men are all full of bravado, cracking jokes down the pub, and laughing with their mates, but when it comes to going to the doctor and talking about things down below they chicken out.

“Since I have been trying to set up the Blue Ribbon Foundation, I have had quite a few people contact me and one or two said as a result they went and got checked and found out they had cancer.

“Women go through having babies and their personal examinations – so why can’t we blokes be a bit more brave and talk about our health and problems down below.”

One in five men in England will die before reaching the age of 65. By comparison, around one in 10 of women die before 65 and one in four before the age of 75.

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