Baring all to raise cancer awareness

Male staff at a hospital ward are aiming to raise awareness of testicular cancer all year round.

More than 20 male colleagues from the A&E department at Wansbeck General Hospital have stripped off for a ‘naked charity calendar’.

The staff – made up of reception, domestic, healthcare assistants, senior nurses, doctors and A&E consultants – have got behind a campaign to encourage men across the north east and beyond to check themselves for testicular cancer every month.

Testicular cancer is one of the most curable of all and early diagnosis can mean a cure rate of 98 per cent.

Craig Leathard, charge nurse at the hospital, has driven the calendar campaign.

He said: “There is already widespread awareness amongst women about breast cancer and we wanted to do something to put testicular cancer on the map too – for men it’s just as important for us to check our balls as it is for women to check their breasts.

“If you find a lump or swelling, or notice any change at all – whether or not it’s painful – then the very best thing you can do is get it checked out by your GP.”

Local builder Stephen Halliburton, from Blyth, was diagnosed with testicular cancer in December 2009 at the age of 45, having the lump removed at North Tyneside General Hospital just five days after being diagnosed.

He said: “I think it’s fantastic what the A&E staff are doing. If it wasn’t for an awareness campaign, I would never have checked myself and who knows where I would be now if I hadn’t.

“The care I received was first class, all very quick and because I discovered the lump so early, I was given the all clear after the op. I can’t stress enough how important it is for men to check themselves and do it regularly.”

Wansbeck MP Ian Lavery, also supporting the calendar campaign, said: “Cancer is something which affects all of us at some point in our lives.

“I think it is fantastic that so many staff from the Wansbeck A&E team have got behind the campaign to raise awareness of testicular cancer and get across a really important message for men.”

The naked charity calendar will be sold in Hospital Volunteer Shops (HVS) at Wansbeck, North Tyneside and Hexham general hospitals, for a minimum donation of £5 which will go towards male cancer charity Orchid and the hospital charity Bright Northumbria.