A CHANCE meeting with the chief executive of a cancer charity proved life-saving for one Penarth man. 

When Ian Norton decided to volunteer for Prostate Cymru to raise awareness of men’s health, little did he know that the decision would lead to him discovering that he already had prostate cancer.

He is speaking out this week on the 20th anniversary of Prostate Cymru which is urging men to get checked and warning that prostate cancer “is not an old man’s disease”.

“It was a chance meeting over coffee with a friend I’d known for years who happened to be the CEO of the charity, Prostate Cymru,” said Mr Norton, 73.

“I was really interested in the charity’s work and I offered to volunteer as part of its awareness team, to give presentations and spread the word about prostate cancer.”

Before he started to volunteer, however, Mr Norton was eager to do some research to find out more.

“As part of my research to find out, I decided to visit my GP,” said Mr Norton. “There, he performed a PSA test which is a blood test that measures the level of Prostate Specific Antigen in the blood and a quick examination.

“When the results came back, my doctor wasn’t happy with them and I was referred to University Hospital of Wales, Cardiff where I had an MRI scan and a biopsy and they confirmed that, yes, I had prostate cancer."

In a shocking statistic, it’s reckoned one man in the UK dies every 45 minutes from the disease.

Following 12 months of active observation, in which time the tumour had grown, Mr Norton – who is now retired from running his own telecoms consultancy - opted for surgery to remove his prostate.

He explained the disease is “symptomless”.

“It was completely out of the blue. I felt fit and healthy but, of course, that’s the problem with early prostate cancer – it is symptomless.”

Today, he continues to volunteer for Prostate Cymru as a men’s health awareness presenter, trying to start the conversation about men’s health.

“Men still don’t talk about their health and are still not going to the GP for a simple PSA test," he said. "Perhaps it’s male machoism that’s at fault which means men don’t want to talk about embarrassing subjects but we must break it down.”

To celebrate its 20-year anniversary, Prostate Cymru is shining a light on the disease by lighting up castles across Wales in blue on 15 May.

Penarth Times:

Ian Norton was active and said the disease is symptomless

Most common cancer in men in Wales

Tina Tew, chief executive of Prostate Cymru, said prostate cancer is still the most common cancer in men in Wales.

“There is still this misconception that this disease only affects old men and it simply isn’t the case,” said Ms Tew. “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.”

With three sons in his forties and a grandson who is 16, Mr Norton feels even more motivated to do what he can to fundraise for Prostate Cymru. He has even performed a 12,000ft skydive to raise vital funds:

“This certainly isn’t an old man’s disease,” said Mr Norton. “We have got to educate the guys out there who really don’t want to talk about it.”