Tragedy prompts family of Sculthorpe man to raise awareness about cancer

The family of a man who died from cancer of the penis have vowed to raise money - and awareness of the disease - in his memory to try and save the lives of others.

Chris Barber, a father-of-three and grandfather-of-two, was just 52 when he died following a nine year battle with cancer which started when he was diagnosed following a routine circumcision operation back in 2002.

Mr Barber, a carpenter from Sculthorpe, near Fakenham, later had the lymph nodes in his groin removed before later bouts of chemotherapy and radiotherapy but finally lost his brave fight in October.

Before he died the former Fakenham Secondary Modern School pupil became aware of a new charity being set up by former prostate cancer sufferer Mel Lacey to raise awareness about male cancers.

Mr Barber spent time in hospital with Mr Lacey, a former police officer, and as a result of hearing about the Blue Ribbon Foundation (BRF), which aims to do for men what the Pink Ribbon Foundation does for women, urged his family to support its work - even after he was gone.

Mr Barber told his family, including wife of 32 years, Anita, 52, daughters Kerry, 30, Sharon, 26, and Katie, 23, that any monies given in his memory should be put to good use in raising the profile of male cancers.

The family donated more than �1500 to the charity and are now giving their time to work with the charity in raising awareness of male cancers.

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Mrs Barber, has bravely taken the decision to speak out about the devastating disease as part of a bid to make men start talking about their bodies and their health to try and prevent further deaths from the disease.

She said: 'I loved Chris so much and to see him battling against this awful disease for so long was heart-breaking.

'Even though it was apparent he was often in pain, he made no fuss and he would not allow us to make any fuss either. He said it was his personal battle and he wanted us to carry on as normal. He was so brave.

'We all miss him terribly, but we now want to use our tragedy to help others. We want to wake men up to the threats they face and we want to tell them that in so many cases, early detection can often lead to successful treatment. That is true of penile cancer, testicular cancer and prostate cancer.

'The girls and I are so keen to play our part in getting men talking about their health more openly and, more importantly, getting themselves checked by a doctor at the first sign of any problems.'

Mr Lacey, who was diagnosed with cancer two years ago after being prompted to go for a test by a friend who was suffering from the disease, helped set up the charity to help other men suffering from cancer and said he has been blown away by the support of the Barber family.

He said: 'I met Chris when we had beds next to each other in hospital.

'Dealing with cancer was a brand new thing for me, but sadly for Chris, he had been fighting it for a while. His attitude and fantastic sense of humour inspired me and helped me deal with my health issue.

'When I was back home recovering, I had good and bad days and unbeknown to him, Chris always helped me deal with the low points.

'Chris was very much in my mind when I started thinking about starting a new male health charity. Chris continued to inspire me.

'And now, after the sad loss of Chris in October, his wife and three daughters are demonstrating the same spirit in working with the charity to raise the profile of male cancers. They are doing exactly what the Blue Ribbon Foundation is trying to encourage – talking more openly about previously hushed-up subjects.

'More openness = more awareness = more early detections = more lives saved!'

For more information about the Blue Ribbon Foundation contact Mel Lacey via mel@blueribbonfoundation.org.uk or log onto www.blueribbonfoundation.org.uk

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Cancer of the penis

Cancer of the penis is rare - approximately 400 men are diagnosed with it in the UK each year.

It is most often diagnosed in men over the age of 50.

The exact cause of cancer of the penis is unknown. It is much less common in men who have had all or part of their foreskin removed (been circumcised) soon after birth.

Some skin conditions that affect the penis can go on to develop into cancer if they are left untreated.

If you notice white patches, red scaly patches, or red moist patches of skin on your penis, it's important to see your doctor so that you can get any treatment that you need.

Cancer of the penis is not infectious and cannot be passed on to other people. It is not caused by an inherited faulty gene and so other members of your family don't have an increased risk of developing it.

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