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‘How a Prostate Cancer UK supporter saved my life’

PICTURED: Thomas Kagezi and Errol McKellar

IN SEPTEMBER 2016, Thomas Kagezi from Huddersfield was sent to inspect the signposting at Hoxton overground station. What Kagezi didn’t know was that this routine job would change his life forever.

“My boss will never know how grateful I am that he insisted I went to inspect that sign. It was a simple, straight forward job, but it saved my life,” said Kagezi.

“While I was working outside the station, I was startled by a man waving a leaflet in my face. He was telling me about prostate cancer and asking whether I’d ever been checked for the disease.”

That man was Prostate Cancer UK supporter Errol McKellar, a local mechanic who was working in Hackney at the time and was diagnosed with prostate cancer himself.

“At first, I didn’t take much notice, but Errol didn’t give up.” said Kagezi. “He said that he had been diagnosed with prostate cancer six years earlier and that 1 in 4 black men get prostate cancer in the UK – double the 1 in 8 risk faced by other men. He asked my age and said that I should really think about speaking to my doctor about my potential risk.

“Eventually, I agreed to take a few leaflets – mainly to keep him quiet! When I did get around to reading them, I realised that the urinary problems I’d been having could be a sign of prostate cancer and decided to book an appointment with my GP for peace of mind.”

After a high PSA blood test reading, Kagezi was sent for a biopsy. He was diagnosed with prostate cancer in October that year.

He said: “I couldn’t believe it. How could someone so fit – a regular cyclist, runner and triathlete be living with such a serious disease?

“As a family, we struggled to come to terms with my diagnosis, but things have improved since I got the all-clear in 2017. I’m just lucky it was caught early, because it turns out the cancer was aggressive, and I could have died if I hadn’t gone to my GP when I did.”

However, unlike Kagezi, most men with early prostate cancer don’t have any symptoms. That’s why it’s important for people to be aware of the risk factors too. Prostate cancer is most common in men over 50 and black men and men with a family history of prostate cancer have a particularly high risk.

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.

Now Kagezi wants to follow in McKellar’s footsteps, and has been working with Prostate Cancer UK to tell more black men about their higher risk of prostate cancer. He has hosted a number of fundraising events for the charity and is currently being featured in its latest campaign to raise awareness in black communities.

He said “Prostate cancer can be successfully treated if it is caught early enough – it’s not something to be ashamed or embarrassed about. We must stop shying away from it. Errol saved my life, and now I want to pass on the message to help save other men.

“Within my community too many people simply keep their diagnosis to themselves. My own dad had prostate cancer and never told anyone! If he’d told me, I would’ve known about my increased risk and gone to my GP earlier.

“It just goes to show how important it is that we keep speaking about these issues, and that black men over 45 know to go and visit their GP. If more people know about prostate cancer, then together we can reduce the number of people dying from the disease.”

Prostate Cancer UK will feature at Notting Hill Carnival on 25-26 August to raise awareness of prostate cancer. To find out more about your risk and having tests for prostate cancer, visit

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