EastEnders’ star, Rudolph Walker, together with Britain’s Got Talent phenomenon, Donchez Dacres, will take to the stage at this year’s Simmer Down Festival in a bid to raise awareness of the increased risk of prostate cancer in black men.
The two celebrities have joined forces with Simmer Down’s charity partner, Prostate Cancer UK, after new figures released by the charity today(i)reveal that a startling 70 per cent of black men are unaware that black ethnicity is a primary risk factor for the disease. Well over half (60%) of black men over the age of 45 have also never heard of, or don’t know what the PSA blood test is – the first diagnostic step for the disease.
One in four black men will get prostate cancer in their lifetime – double the one in eight risk faced by white men in the UK. Rudolph and Donchez will stand alongside Prostate Cancer UK at this year’s festival to raise awareness of the significant risk that prostate cancer poses to the lives of black men and encourage black families to take action.
Rudolph (78), who is most widely known for his role as Patrick Trueman in the BBC soap EastEnders has been a long-time supporter of Prostate Cancer UK and is one of the charity’s Stronger Knowing More ambassadors.
He said: “The first time I heard about prostate cancer was when my uncle was diagnosed over 20 years ago. I was very close with my uncle but I only found out about his diagnosis after talking to his brother in Trinidad. At that point prostate cancer wasn’t really talked about in any detail in the family.
“My uncle was treated with chemotherapy and lived quite a number of years after being diagnosed but he never spoke about it – never mentioned the serious nature of what he was dealing with. At the time I didn’t really understand how serious it was until one day I had a call to tell me that he’d died from the disease.
“Since then I’ve become determined to do my bit to raise awareness of prostate cancer as much as possible, and so I’m delighted to be back at Simmer Down this year. It’s so important that every black man is aware of his risk and takes the necessary steps to protect himself.”
2018 Britain’s Got Talent finalist, Donchez Dacres (61), who rose to fame with his song,Wiggle Wine, is also a proud supporter of Prostate Cancer UK and will take to the stage at this year’s festival for a one-off performance.
He said: “I am a black man over the age of 50, placing me in two ‘at risk’ groups for prostate cancer. A friend of mine was treated for the disease recently and I’ve seen first-hand the impact it can have on the lives of men and their families.
“I make sure I’m checked regularly for prostate cancer. Thankfully so far my results have come back clear but one in four black men aren’t so lucky. I’m looking forward to getting up on stage at this year’s festival – not only to get everyone moving to Wiggle Wine but also to encourage all black men over the age of 45 to take the first step and book an appointment with the doctor to discuss their prostate cancer risk. It’s a conversation which could save your life.”
Prostate Cancer UK will be supporting the Simmer Down Festival as part of its Stronger Knowing More campaign. The flagship campaign which has been running since January 2017 aims to inspire black men to face their risk of prostate cancer by having the courage to talk to their doctor and spread the word, so that the disease is picked up earlier and treated in time. Celebrities that have already pledged their support alongside Rudolph Walker include Benjamin Zephaniah, Linford Christie and David Haye.
It is not clear why black men face a higher than average risk of prostate cancer but it is widely thought that genetics could be an underlying factor. The PSA blood test is the first step towards diagnosis and black men are encouraged to start speaking to their GP about the test from the age of 45 – five years earlier than other men.
Tony Wong, Prostate Cancer UK’s Men at Risk Programme Manager said: “We’re delighted to be back at Simmer Down this year and to have the support of both Rudolph and Donchez. With over two thirds of black men still unaware that black ethnicity is a risk factor for prostate cancer we’ve certainly got a big job to do.
“This is a disease that we can’t afford to ignore. However, as a black man myself I am all too aware of the long-standing taboos that surround prostate cancer within our communities and too many men continue to let pride get in the way of their health. Ultimately, it’s putting lives at risk.
“It’s important to remember that if prostate cancer is caught early it can often be successfully treated and that’s the message we want to get across to men at the festival this year.”
Prostate Cancer UK will have a dedicated area at the festival with information and a Specialist Nurse on hand to speak to people with any questions or concerns about the disease. A number of fun activities will also be taking place at the stand to help raise awareness of the most common cancer in men.