Grandad’s marathon effort to raise awareness of killer disease

John Marshall with Chris Kamara.
John Marshall with Chris Kamara.

Grandad John Marshall is running a marathon in a bid to raise awareness about prostate cancer, after beating the disease himself.

John set off on the walk from York FC’s football ground on Tuesday, alongside Sky Sports presenter Jeff Stelling and several sports stars.

The Men United March team. John is pictured far right in the red scarf.

The Men United March team. John is pictured far right in the red scarf.

Prostate cancer is known to run in families so when John started to notice changes to his health, it occurred to him that he may have fallen victim to the family curse.

John’s father, uncle and both grandfathers had suffered from prostate cancer, putting him in a high-risk group.

In 2006, a blood test during his annual medical check-up found he had the disease.

Now 69, the grandfather-of-five said: “When you get told you’ve got cancer, it’s a shock of course and you sit there thinking ‘Oh my God, I’m going to die.’ All those things go through your head.”

There is a genetic component associated with the disease, and in the UK today there are 250,000 men living with prostate cancer, while 12,000 die every year because they don’t get checked out.

But apart from problems with going to the toilet, prostate cancer has few symptoms.

This is why John, who is from Wray, is now helping to raise awareness about prostate cancer detection.

“This is the problem with prostate cancer; many men have no symptoms and then by the time they find out they’ve got a problem, it’s too late,” said John, who has now been given the all-clear.

John also points out one of the issues surrounding the prostate cancer diagnosis rates.

“Men stick their heads in the sand when it comes to health and we all need that encouragement to talk to the men we know and tell them to go to the doctors if they think they’re ill,” he said.

His advice to people who have just been diagnosed would be to look for help from others, whether it’s from family or professional health workers. He added:“Fortunately, I had support from my family but many people don’t have that.

“There are people there out there who want to help; you can ‘phone the Prostate Cancer UK helpline or you can talk to somebody who has been through what you’re going through.

“They’ll tell you their story and that this isn’t the end of the world. You’ve got a disease, it can be treated and this is not the end for you.”

On Tuesday John joined Jeff Stelling, as well as former footballers Iain Dowie, Chris Kamara, Ray Wilkins and Charlie Nicholas, rugby league players and Olympians as they walked a marathon from York City FC to Leeds United FC.

The walk was part of “10 in 10” – a Men United Walk that Jeff Stelling is doing that involves walking a marathon each day to get him from Hull City to Wembley stadium.

You can sponsor John at www.justgiving.com/JohnDMarshall.

More info on the marathon walk can be found at www.prostatecanceruk.org.