TESTING not jesting - that’s the message to men in the borough from the Mayor of Solihull who is recovering from a prostate cancer operation.
Referring to the PSA (Prostate Specific Antigen) test that pinpointed the cancer, Councillor Ian Courts is now on a mission to encourage guys to make an appointment at the doctors and get tested.
The Mayor had known he had cancer for the last two years but as it was only present in around two per cent of twelve tests and up to a quarter of men display this regardless, doctors decided to monitor him closely with six monthly PSA checks and two yearly biopsies.
However by March, following a biopsy, Coun Courts was handed the devastating news that he had to have treatment.
“It was totally unexpected, coming only weeks after my Mayoral nomination. The surgeon told me he thought he could cure me but I had to lose weight, I was too fat. I had to lose two stone. In about two months.
Opting to shed the pounds sensibly by cutting down on bread, pastries and potatoes as well as regular exercise saw the Mayor drop two stones and ready to undergo surgery.
“I had the surgery in London because I was advised that an operation by robot had fewer side effects and a quicker recovery time. Apparently there is no robotic surgery in the Midlands - incredible, I was told that in New York there are dozens and dozens.
“Surgeons brought my op forward to June 26 and said I needed a month to recover and three months of reduced activity. The truth is though I have been doing too much.The operation was more inconvenient than painful and my functions are not back to normal but in time they will be.
“My son Robert and the Mayoress have been a fantastic support and councillors too. Politically it didn’t matter.”
The Mayor is keen for men, particularly those over 50, to get a PSA test at the doctors.
A simple blood test measures the level of PSA - a protein made by the prostate gland. Sometimes a raised PSA level can be a sign of prostate cancer. More often though, it is caused by something less serious like an inflamed or an enlarged prostate that often comes with ageing. A single PSA test can’t show you whether a cancer is present and if so whether it is slow- or fast-growing.
“Survival rates have jumped from one in four during the seventies to about three in four now,” said Coun Court. “The earlier it is detected the better it is. Men who ignore this message are mad.”
* Coun Court is pictured showing 5lbs of fat - the weight he had to lose before surgeons would operate