Married at First Sight UK’s first gay couple take on mammoth challenge to help tackle cancer stigma
Married at First Sight UK’s first gay couple, Matthew Jameson and Daniel McKee, spent the month of March walking 11,000 steps a day – and it’s all for a good cause.
Matthew and Daniel quickly amassed a huge following when they fell in love on the Channel 4 show last year. Now, they’re using their platform to make a difference and to encourage people to get tested for prostate cancer.
On Thursday (31 March) the came to the end of the March the Month 2022 challenge, a Prostate Cancer UK initiative that encourages people to go on a daily walk, taking a step for each of the 11,000 people who die from prostate cancer every year.
Matthew and Dan’s reasons for taking on the challenge are personal. In 2004, Matthew’s dad was diagnosed with prostate cancer. It came as an enormous shock to the entire family.
“It kind of came from nowhere,” Matthew tells PinkNews. “My dad was around 50, 51, when he was diagnosed, which isn’t old at all. It was such a shock for myself and my mum and both my brothers as well. We just rallied around him and were supportive, and we got such great support from his GP and the oncologist. The treatment that my dad got was so quick as well and he was given different options.”
Shortly after he received his diagnosis, Matthew’s dad was given a prostatectomy – surgery where part or all of the prostate is removed.
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“It’s such a scary position to be in – especially with your parents. You think they’re going to be around forever and they’re going to be there to support you, but then you’re there to support them when they need you as well.”
Looking back, Matthew says his dad was “lucky” – he didn’t need to have any follow up treatments because his prostate cancer was detected so early.
“That was such a godsend really,” Matthew says.
Call your GP if you’re worried about prostate cancer
He and Dan are now hoping they can use their platform to educate others about the risk of prostate cancer. Diagnoses rates have dropped since the pandemic started, and experts fear there are people with prostates out there who are going undiagnosed. That means they run the risk of having their cancer detected at a later stage, making it harder to treat.
“I just turned 40 last week and that’s kind of the time when you need to start making sure that you are checking things out if anything isn’t working in the right way or you feel like something might be wrong,” Matthew says. “The work Prostate Cancer UK do in raising awareness and making sure that people know what they need to do and also where there’s support and advice, it’s really imperative.”
If you feel like you’ve got any kind of symptoms at all, make sure you go and get it checked out.
That’s what led Matthew and Dan to take on the March the Month challenge. The couple, who recently moved to Northern Ireland, were eager to draw attention to the work Prostate Cancer UK is doing.
“If you feel like you’ve got any kind of symptoms at all, make sure you go and get it checked out,” Matthew says. “Make sure you make an appointment, even if it’s just over the phone, have a chat with your GP, or have a look at the resources that are online. It’s so important with cancer, and especially prostate cancer, to catch it as early as possible. So if you do feel like there’s something not quite right, the best thing to do is just get it checked out. It’s better to be safe than sorry.”
Dan was inspired to take on the challenge because he saw how important it was to Matthew.
“What Prostate Cancer UK does is really help the men through it and their families – not only giving them the guidance, but giving them the support,” he says. “That really resonated with me and that’s something that I wanted to back. When big life changes like this happen, people need someone to turn to, and that’s why I wanted to jump on this journey.”
Families need to have candid conversations about cancer
Taking on the March the Month challenge has been a heartening experience for both Matthew and Dan – it’s encouraged them to get out and explore their new home in Northern Ireland.
“We’re right on the coast and there are so many amazing lovely coastal walks, we’re near the Giant’s Causeway so we’ve been able to do that,” says Matt. “We also go running – it’s really helped us get into a bit of a fitness routine and get out in the fitness routine and get out in the sunshine.”
Both Matthew and Dan are pleading with people who are having any of the symptoms associated with prostate cancer to talk to their GP. They’re urging those with prostates who are finding themselves getting up during the night a lot to use the toilet to get checked.
“Something I didn’t know until recently was about the blood in the urine, that really stands out,” Dan says.
“Basically, if you’re having to get up three or four times in the night, even if you’re drinking lots of water, that’s definitely a telltale sign,” Matthew says. “Get checked out, or do get in touch with Prostate Cancer UK and have a chat with them.”
People don’t like to talk about cancer because their mind naturally goes to the worst case scenario.
They’re also urging family members to talk to their loved ones and encourage them to get tested if they’re seeing signs of prostate cancer.
“People don’t like to talk about cancer because their mind naturally goes to the worst case scenario,” Dan says. “It’s about fighting that stigma and making it a general conversation. It’s not a death sentence anymore if you catch it quick. It’s about having those conversations in a relaxed manner – it really changes the whole outlook.”
If you want to find out more about the signs and symptoms of prostate cancer, you can visit the Prostate Cancer UK website here. You can call their specialist nurses with any questions on 0800 074 8383.
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