Back in February of this year, Charlton Athletic staged a PSA testing day at The Valley ahead of the club’s game against Fleetwood Town. This fixture was also the club’s annual ‘Men’s Health Awareness Day’ when supporters from both clubs were able to get a PSA blood test at the stadium.
The PSA test is a blood test that measures the amount of prostate specific antigen (PSA) in your blood to help diagnose prostate problems – including prostate cancer, which sadly is now the third most common cancer in the UK. Early diagnosis is crucial, but symptoms do not usually appear until the prostate is large enough to affect the urethra.
A week or so before Charlton Athletic’s PSA testing day, I received an email from one of my oldest friends, Steve Maynard. Steve and I joined the Midland Bank around the same time, and we worked together in the early 1970’s at the Bank’s Woolwich Branch. Steve, a Charlton fan, had read about the club’s ‘Men’s Health Awareness Day’ plans and, knowing my connection with the club and with the Charlton Athletic Community Trust, he wanted to discuss with me how his experience of PSA tests and their limitations, might help with the communications about this awful condition. It was the most difficult and emotional email I’ve ever had to read. Sadly, we never got to have that discussion.
In his email Steve told me that he was diagnosed with prostate cancer (PC) in October 2021, however his type of PC was not diagnosed by the PSA blood test. After having several blood tests with his PSA levels being normal, Steve was simply told that he must just have an ‘old man’s problem’. It was only after having some other tests at Darent Valley Hospital, including a scan, that he was told that he had a rare form of prostate cancer that does not show up on PSA tests.
Steve went on to tell me how he started Chemotherapy in December 2021, followed by Radiotherapy and in July 2022 he was told he was clear, although he was still experiencing ‘old man’ problems. This led to further tests and an operation in August, following which Steve was given the devasting news that the cancer had returned in his Prostate but now it was also in his lymph nodes and in his back, making it incurable, with a prognosis of 12 to 18 months.
The reason he told me all this was because he knew he was, as he put it, ‘one of the unlucky ones’ but he wanted to discuss how best to communicate the fact that having a PSA test is a very important thing to do but it isn’t fool-proof and even after receiving a negative result, someone may still have Prostate Cancer. Steve wanted to get the message out that, if you are experiencing ‘old man’ problems, then even if you have received a negative PSA result, please do go and get yourself checked.
Steve signed off his email to me by saying… ‘Steve, sorry it’s a bit long but I am passionate in how I can get the message out there!’
Sadly, Steve died peacefully in his sleep on the night of Thursday 13th April with his wife Gill, his two daughters and his sister with him.
I’m pleased I have been able, via this article, to communicate Steve’s very important message.
RIP Steve Maynard.
Further information on PSA Testing can be found at Prostate Cancer UK