I'm one of the lucky ones - why Gregory backs cancer fight

John Gregory

John Gregory

First published in Sport by

Whether Crawley win, lose or draw against Colchester United today manager John Gregory is brutally aware that there are more important things in life than football.

Along with every other manager up and down the country the Reds boss will be wearing the Men United badge on his familiar training top on the touchline at the Checkatrade.com Stadium.

It is part of Prostate Cancer UK’s quest to raise awareness about the deadly disease which affects one in ten men at some point in their lives.

Gregory understands that fact all too well having been diagnosed with prostate cancer in October 2008.

Fortunately the disease was caught at the early stages and Gregory has been able to lead a normal life since doctors removed the prostate in February 2009.

Gregory said: “My wife Michele kept nagging me to have the test for prostate cancer but I refused because I had no symptoms.

“In felt fine but I had probably been walking around with prostate cancer for a couple of years without even knowing it.

“Fortunately we found it by accident and I was able to get it treated successfully. I had actually gone to the doctor about something else and as I was leaving I thought I would ask if he would carry out a blood test for prostate cancer to get Michele off my back.

“To say it was a bolt from the blue was an understatement and for a while I couldn’t quite believe what was happening.

“I was a really scary time but I tried to put on a brave face with my family and say it was all part of life and that we just needed to face up to it.

“The good news was that it had not spread beyond the prostate, which was a huge relief. If it had I would have been in serious trouble.”

Gregory still goes for regular check-ups to ensure the cancer has not returned and even had to cancel one trip to the doctor’s on the day he was unveiled as Crawley boss in December.

The former Aston Villa boss was 54 when he was diagnosed and believes that every male over the age of 40 should have the five-minute test for prostate cancer.

Nearly 32,000 men are found to have the disease every year in the UK and early diagnosis is crucial in order to boost the chances of survival.

Gregory said: “I had no idea I had cancer and I certainly believed I was pretty much bullet-proof. My thinking was that men like me didn’t get cancer and if you ask the average sportsman, particularly footballers, they would have exactly the same logic.

“Since I was diagnosed I have told all my mates to get checked out and I would urge every male over the age of 40 to have the test as it is quick and pain free but could save your life.

“I’ve been lucky but if they don’t catch it quickly it can spread.

“Even now I have to go for checks every six months and there is always that doubt in the back of your mind that it could come back.

“I lost my sister with cancer a year ago after she had got the all-clear which shows that you are never completely in the clear but I know I am one of the lucky ones.”


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