Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

'If Something's Not Right, Get It Checked' My Life Blokes across the North East Are Growing Moustaches This Month to Raise the Profile of Male Cancers. FRANCESCA CRAGGS Meets a Dad of Two Who Has Beaten Testicular Cancer and Transformed His Life through Sport

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

'If Something's Not Right, Get It Checked' My Life Blokes across the North East Are Growing Moustaches This Month to Raise the Profile of Male Cancers. FRANCESCA CRAGGS Meets a Dad of Two Who Has Beaten Testicular Cancer and Transformed His Life through Sport

Article excerpt

SOME may wonder why male colleagues and friends are sporting more hair than usual above their top lip this month.

It's either down to lack of time, or the fact they're participating in Movember - "the month formerly known as November."

This moustache or "mo"-growing charity event aims to raise vital funds and awareness for men's health, specifically prostate and testicular cancers.

Dad-of-two Brian Turnbull knows only too well the importance of such events. The 43-year-old from Winlaton, Gateshead, was diagnosed with testicular cancer three years ago this month.

He said: "I wasn't really one to check my testicles regularly, but one day I noticed one of them was quite hard and sore.

"My wife Claire suggested I should go to see my GP. He didn't think there was anything to be concerned about, but put me on a four-week waiting list for an ultrasound scan. I was shocked to discover it was cancer."

Brian had one of his testicles removed and a three-month course of chemotherapy followed due to it spreading to his lymph nodes.

Cancer, however, wasn't his only battle. From the age of 18, Brian, who grew up in Australia, has suffered from manic depression. He also has autism.

Yet despite all this, with support from wife Claire, he remained positive throughout.

Brian, who has a son, Matthew, 14, and 10-yearold daughter, Grace, said: "It sounds strange but I kind of took it as a positive in a sense. I have two other conditions, autism and I'm also bipolar.

"At the end of my chemotherapy, I had a toxic reaction to Lithium which I used to take for manic depression.

"They had to take me off it and I'm now on a different drug and feel a lot happier. I was also quite overweight when I went into hospital. I was 17 stone and after the treatment I was down to 12 stone, which is much healthier."

Few would find the strength to be inspired, however, Brian decided to turn his illness into a real positive. And sport in particular has proved the tonic to help him turn his life around.

The former retail manager decided to become a sports volunteer and recently scooped a prestigious Olympic award for his efforts.

Brian was crowned the North East's Sport Maker of the year after taking part in over 50 hours of volunteering at Gateshead Stadium Netball Club. He was presented with the award by Sport England's Judith Rasmussen.

Brian said: "My life was always about work, work, work, but sport has always been where my heart is. I never really got involved much, but after the cancer I felt it was the right time.

"I was made redundant during my illness, so I decided to become a volunteer. "I joined a programme with Gateshead Council called Get With It and was helping coach a kids' netball team. I loved it so much I decided to take my level 1 netball coaching award. …

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