Lancaster grandad joins TV star in bid to fight cancer

John Marshall with Jeff Stelling during last year's walk.
John Marshall with Jeff Stelling during last year's walk.
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Lancaster pensioner John Marshall has dusted off his walking boots to join TV presenter Jeff Stelling in a walking challenge for Prostate Cancer UK.

John, 70, joins Jeff on days seven and 10 of the march, walking 52 miles from Wigan Athletic to Manchester City (via Bolton and Manchester United) today, Thursday June 8, and from Fleetwood Town to Morecambe FC on Sunday June 11 alongside Jeff and an army of marchers who will together take on this epic challenge to help stop prostate cancer being a killer.

Teaming up with the leading men’s health organisation, the long-standing Soccer Saturday host is aiming to raise £500,000 on his March for Men, 15 walking marathons in 15 days, from Exeter City FC to Newcastle United FC.

John was inspired to join #JeffsMarch for Prostate Cancer UK after beating the disease himself a few years ago.

He said: “Ignoring prostate cancer won’t beat it, so I joined the fight by signing up to Jeff’s Men United March.

“I decided to sign up because I’m one of the lucky ones and I have a chance to help others.

“Prostate cancer is known to run in families so when I started to notice changes to my health, it occurred to me that I may have fallen victim to the family curse. My father, uncle and both grandfathers had suffered from prostate cancer, putting me in a high-risk group.”

In 2006, a blood test during his annual medical check-up found he had the disease.

The grandfather-of-five said: “When you get told you’ve got cancer, it’s a shock of course and you sit there thinking ‘Oh my God, I’m going to die.’ All those things go through your head.”

He also points out one of the issues surrounding the prostate cancer diagnosis rates.

“Men stick their heads in the sand when it comes to health and we all need that encouragement to talk to the men we know and tell them to go to the doctors if they think they’re ill.”

His advice to people who have just been diagnosed would be to look for help from others, whether it’s from family or professional health workers.

“Fortunately, I had support from my family but many people don’t have that,” he said.

“There are people there out there who want to help, you can phone the Prostate Cancer UK helpline or you can talk to somebody who has been through what you’re going through.

“They’ll tell you their story and that this isn’t the end of the world. You’ve got a disease, it can be treated and this is not the end for you.”

Starting in Devon last Friday, Jeff’s March for Men – prostatecanceruk.org/jeffsmarch – sees the Sky stalwart walk 400 miles from the south west to the north east with the symmetrical stroll starting at St James Park, home of the Grecians, and ending at the Magpies’ St James’ Park a fortnight later.

Closcking in at 400 miles, Jeff’s journey will see him visit more than 40 football clubs, heading up the west of England via Bristol and Stoke and through the northern footballing hotbeds of Merseyside and Manchester, before cutting across the country and ending at the home of Championship high flyers Newcastle.

James Beeby, director of fundraising at Prostate Cancer UK, said: “We’re delighted that John has decided to join the fight against prostate cancer and march to raise vital funds for Prostate Cancer UK.

“Ignoring prostate cancer will not beat it, and the money raised by our fantastic marchers will fund ground-breaking research to help fight the disease.

“One man every hour dies from prostate cancer; it’s the most common cancer in men. But we want to make prostate cancer a disease that the next generation of men do not fear. We thank John and all the walkers for joining the fight.”

To sponsor John, please visit https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/MarshallsMarchYou can also get behind Jeff and his March for Men by visiting prostatecanceruk.org/jeffsmarch.