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Nelson supporter raising cancer awareness

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Nelson supporter John Heyworth was able to combine two of his main spare time interests simultaneously at Little Wembley on Saturday.

As well as getting his regular Saturday fix of football watching the Admirals in their MEN United Cup game against Cammell Laird 1907, John was also manning a stall in the clubhouse on behalf of Prostate Cancer UK, in his role as a volunteer for the charity and through his involvement in the East Lancashire Prostate Cancer Support Group.

It’s a cause that is close to John’s heart, as he was diagnosed with prostate cancer four years ago, and after treatment and an operation to have his prostate removed, he is still suffering from the disease.

He now has to try and control his condition by medication and leading a healthy lifestyle, and in the meantime, he is committed to raising the awareness of prostate cancer in any way he can.

His first introduction to the Prostate Cancer UK charity was through football, and he is keen to use football as a means to get the message across to as many men as possible.

“I am a season ticket holder at Burnley FC, as well as at Nelson, and I came across Prostate Cancer UK on the Burnley website about 4-5 years ago”, said John.

“I now spend quite a few days a month working for the charity. I've been doing bucket collections at football matches, and I've been to most of the professional league clubs in the North West.

“I spend time campaigning on behalf of Prostate Cancer UK, for example I was up in Glasgow at the LibDem conference and got to speak to the likes of Nick Clegg and Vince Cable to raise awareness.

“I also do a lot of one-to-one-peer support, so if somebody contacts the Prostate Cancer help desk and speaks to one of the nurses there, and wants to speak to someone who has had prostate cancer and had the treatment I have had, they often get referred to me.

“I phone them up and spend maybe an hour on the phone, talking things through and trying to reassure them.

“I also do talks to various groups, but the thing I spend most time on is an involvement with a research project called True North, which is funded by the Movember Foundation, and it is all about survivorship.

“About 330,000 people in the UK like me are living with prostate cancer, but depending on where you live it is a bit of a lottery as to what treatment you get and how you get looked after afterwards.

“So this group is looking to come up with an improved programme of interventions for people surviving prostate cancer”.

John’s work for Prostate Cancer UK was recognised a few months back, when he received a special award which was presented to him by Burnley manager Sean Dyche at Turf Moor prior to a game.

“I was inducted into the MEN United Hall of Fame, and there is a picture on the Prostate Cancer website of me being presented with the award by Sean Dyche”, said John.

“I just want to give something back, and do something positive. Men who have cancer want to talk about it, and so many people now get it, it's important to raise awareness, especially as for many men there are often no symptoms.

“My recommendation is that when men get to age 50 and beyond, ask your doctor for a check. It's a simple blood test and that will give an indication as to whether you have or haven't got it”.

After a successful day on Saturday raising awareness of the condition among supporters of both clubs, John will continue to combine his work for the charity with watching Burnley FC and Nelson, and as a recent convert to non-league football, he is very much enjoying his experiences of the NWCFL.

“The link with Nelson came when Burnley got into the Premier League last season, and I wasn't getting my regular fix of football on a Saturday afternoon”, he said.

“The games are often on at funny times, and they don't play as many games.

“Nelson is my local club. I only live down the road so I started coming down last season and again this season, and I love it.

“I love being able to stand on the touchline, seeing the cut and thrust of a tackle and I have really enjoyed watching non-league football”.

Source: www.nwcfl.com

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