A CHARITY is working to help save the lives of men across Devon and Cornwall.  

For years, the Graham Fulford Charitable Trust has been working to save the lives of men up and down the South West by providing free testing for prostate cancer.  

The charity was set up by Graham Fulford to promote awareness of prostate cancer following the diagnosis of a close friend who died at the age of 58 and a close family member who died in 2007 with prostate cancer after a valiant fight. 

Now, the charity hopes to help men identify potential cancers through event and at home testing.  

Wendy Symons, who works for the charity across Devon and Cornwall explained: “A colleague of mine from Mole Valley Farmers, who I worked alongside for 12 years, went to his GP about 20 years ago, asking for a PSA test. His dad had died of prostate cancer, far too young, and my colleague wanted to get a PSA test himself, as he was aware of the risk being hereditary.   

“His GP refused, as regardless of the risk, he was too young, and did not have any symptoms. Although he offered to pay, there and then, the GP refused. 

“After he had been refused a test, he kept looking for ways to get a PSA test, eventually he heard about Graham Fulford, who once contacted, said he would come to Cornwall, if we could find him a location. Being a keen Rugby watcher, he chose the Camels Rugby Club in Wadebridge.” 

Since then, the charity has been coming to the South West and providing a space for men to get tested for this deadly disease.  

For the last three years, Wendy has been organising events in Devon and Cornwall, testing more than 10,000 men in the last two years alone.  

Wendy continued: “About three years ago, Graham asked if I could organise all the events in Cornwall - and possibly Devon if I could cope with it. Back then there were around two or three events a year.  Immediately I gave up a most of my interests and hobbies to focus on this and I now organise two or three events every month, across Devon and Cornwall.  

“From that day, we have covered all areas of the two counties, using village halls, rugby and football clubhouses, golf clubs, hotels and visited numerous businesses. 

“In the last two years my partner - a dairy farmer - and myself, have tested more than 10,000 men all over Devon and Cornwall, aged 40 and above.  

“While none of these men are showing any symptoms whatsoever for Prostate Cancer, we find it at every event.”  

After each event, blood samples are either collected by a special courier, or posted to the TDL laboratory in London - the same one used by the NHS. Within 24 to 48 hours the results return and between four and ten per cent of the men tested will need to come back, requiring further investigations.  

Prostate Cancer is the most common cancer among men. More than 52,000 men are diagnosed with the disease every year on average in the UK, that's 144 men every day. 

Every 45 minutes one man dies from prostate cancer, totalling more than 12,000 men every year, and on average, one in eight men will be diagnosed within their lifetime.  

Prostate Cancer Testing Event
In the last two years, more than 10,000 men have been tested at events in Devon and Cornwall (Submitted)

A spokesperson from Prostate Cancer UK explained: “Prostate cancer mainly affects men over 50, and your risk increases with age. The risk is even higher for black men and men with a family history of prostate cancer. 

“Prostate cancer that’s contained inside the prostate doesn’t usually cause any symptoms. That's why it's important to know about your risk. 

“But some men might have some urinary problems. These can be mild and happen over many years and may be a sign of a benign prostate problem, rather than prostate cancer. 

“If you think you might be at risk of prostate cancer or are experiencing any symptoms, visit your GP”  

Having recently been awarded The King’s Award for Voluntary Service – the highest award a local voluntary group can receive in the UK, equivalent to an MBE - GFCT continue to provide an accessible space for men to receive vital testing.  

Wendy concluded: “My message to all men - getting a test and getting it treated early is so important as once there are symptoms, it may be too late.” 

The charity’s next event in Cornwall is being hosted at the Wadebridge Camels Rugby Club on Thursday, April 18, while the next Devon event is being hosted at the Livermead House Hotel in Torquay on Wednesday, May 22.  

More information about booking a space or future testing event can be found on the charity’s website: gfct.mypsatests.org.uk/Events/?s=Cornwall  

Prostate Cancer Testing Event
Following testing, results inform residents whether any further action is required (Submitted)