This morning West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service (WYFRS) hosted former Westlife singer Brian McFadden and his wife Vogue Williams for the ITV’s Lorraine show ‘Check Your Chaps’ feature.
The campaign aims to raise awareness of the ‘man emergency’ that is prostate and testicular cancer and encourage men to check regularly for signs – or for their partners to do it for them.
The live TV broadcast, from our Headquarters in Birkenshaw, saw firefighters from the WYFRS’ Red Hot Dates charity calendar speak candidly about whether they have been vigilant against two of man’s biggest cancer opponents.
Interviews featured the calendar’s Mr April, Crew Commander Steve O’Keefe from Fairweather Green Fire Station, Mr November, Crew Commander Matt Wolski from Idle Fire Station, and Mr December, Firefighter Neil Smithers from Normanton Fire Station.
Fortunately none of the above has suffered from ill health, but Watch Commander Vinny Nickle, who works at Moortown and Cookridge fire stations, spoke of his experience of being diagnosed with prostate cancer in May 2009.
Vinny underwent a five-hour operation to remove his prostate and lymph nodes and was off work for 14 months to recover.
Fortunately the operation was successful and the dad-of-four is now cancer-free.
The 51-year-old said: “Before this I had not even given cancer a second thought. There’s no history of it in my family before me but it’s got to start somewhere.
“Don’t rule out the possibility. When you get to 40 and above there’s no reason not to have a blood test and check it out. You can have a National Health body check if you are concerned you might have symptoms but sometimes the symptoms creep up on you.
“Tackle it early if there’s a problem because unfortunately this is a disease that, if not tackled early, can spread quickly into the bones and there’s no coming back from that.”
Deputy Chief Fire Officer Steve Beckley said: “We are hugely in support of Lorraine’s Check Your Chaps ITV campaign which highlights a vital men’s health issue. A high proportion of our workforce is male and whilst our daily jobs are about saving other people’s lives, we can all be guilty of neglecting our own health at times.
“By highlighting prostate and testicular cancer on national TV our firefighters hope to inspire others to dispel the taboo that surrounds the subject and get clued up on how to carry out simple monthly checks.
“After all, our ethos in the fire service is that prevention is better than cure and a massive 98 % of testicular cancer can be treated if caught early enough.”
This year’s Red Hot Dates calendar supports numerous national and local charities and last year backed Prostate Cancer UK and Cancer Research UK.
For more information on the calendar visit www.redhotdates.co.uk or to find out more about the Check Your Chaps visit http://www.itv.com/lorraine