Numero P

20 years ago, our family decided to buy my Dad a health assessment for his 50th birthday. We called it his “MOT”. Essentially it was a detailed health assessment provided by a private medical insurance company, by means to acquire new members. My Dad had all the tests you could possibly have done. Two weeks later we found out he had prostate cancer.

I will never forget just after his operation he was lying in his hospital, in terrible pain. I felt useless. But feeling sad for my Dad wasn’t going to make him feel any better or recover any quicker. I couldn’t help my Dad medically, but I was a promising marketer and an average DJ. I used my marketing skills to raise awareness and money for prostate cancer research by organising and DJing at a fund-raising party. The fact that I got off my arse and tried to do something to help in some way meant more to my Dad that anything.

I shared my story with a local paper. The story then got picked up by a national paper who ran a centre-page headline “Son’s Gift of Life”. Now we all know that’s not quite true, but the paper liked the angle of how a family’s 50th birthday present for their Dad, resulted in them discovering he had cancer. The paper at the time was read by two million readers. If that was the story they wanted to run to raise awareness of prostate cancer, then I was not going to stop them.

20 years ago, awareness of prostate cancer was very low for such a common cancer amongst men. The charities who supported prostate cancer research received little government funding. I believe the small amount of £500 that we raised from our event contributed to something like 5% of the Prostate Cancer Research Charity’s annual funding.

I get that in the world we live in today it’s not all happy families. Feuds happen all the time. They can last a lifetime. Don’t let them. The one thing we don’t have on our side is time. Time is the most precious thing on the planet. Make the most out of it. Use time to heal, but never use it as an excuse.

You’ve got to turn every negative into a positive. No matter how hard things may appear at the time, if nothing positive comes out of a negative situation then you’ve let the circumstance get the better of you. Don’t let circumstances dictate your life. You win your battles and fights by taking control of circumstance.

I turned the negative circumstance of finding out my Dad had cancer into the best possible outcome I could have imagined. My Dad became my friend. We put the past behind us. Since that day, I try and speak to my Dad every day. No matter where I am in the world, I always find the time. Find the time for your parents and family, because one day they won’t be around.

Copyright © Matthew Parkes 2020

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