Darth Vader runs marathon fundraiser after being diagnosed with prostate cancer

A man diagnosed with prostate cancer after a routine health check will run the London Marathon dressed as Darth Vader.

Simon Best, 59, said he doesn’t expect to match his previous marathon times and decided to make the event “more fun” by wearing a costume.

Mr Best, from Coulsdon, Surrey, was diagnosed with stage two prostate cancer in February 2021 and is aiming to raise money for the charity Prostate Cancer UK, which he said has given him “fantastic help”.

A blood PSA (prostate-specific antigen) test taken as part of the annual health check-up in December 2020 showed that Mr Best had a slightly elevated level and an MRI scan and biopsy confirmed the diagnosis.

Mr Best, who is retired, had no symptoms and said it was easy to see why prostate cancer is being called the silent killer.

“I’m just happy I picked it up so early, otherwise it could have been a lot worse,” he said.

He received high-intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU) to shrink the cancer through private healthcare and will receive quarterly PSA tests and annual MRI scans as part of active surveillance under the NHS at St George’s Hospital, Tooting, south London.

Mr Best said Prostate Cancer UK’s website and specialist nurses really helped him after diagnosis, while his adviser was only willing to point out the options available.

“They have given me fantastic help since my cancer was confirmed,” he said.

“They provided the treatment options much more clearly.

“When I called them to discuss them, they arranged for men who had been through all the procedures to call me and discuss at length what they had been through and how it had affected them.

“It’s really helped me make progress in my decision-making and made me feel like I have someone there to help and support me.”

Mr Best said he would like to see the diagnostic process improve and that treatments like HIFU become available on the NHS to offer more prostate removal options, which can have life-changing effects for some men.

The prostate is a gland, usually the size and shape of a walnut, that sits under the bladder and surrounds the urethra, which is the tube that carries urine out of the body. The main job of the prostate is to help produce semen — the fluid that transports sperm.

Prostate Cancer UK says around one in eight men in the UK will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime. It mainly affects men over 50 and the risk increases with age, but is higher for black men and men with a family history of prostate cancer.

It’s the most common cancer in men, with more than 52,000 men diagnosed each year — 143 men every day.

According to the charity, more than 12,000 men die from prostate cancer each year, while around 475,000 men live with and after prostate cancer.

Former BBC Breakfast presenter Bill Turnbull died on August 31 at the age of 66 after being diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer in November 2017.

Broadcaster and author Stephen Fry, musician Jools Holland and singer Sir Rod Stewart are among high-profile men who have spoken out about prostate cancer treatment and urged other men to get tested.

The London marathon is part of a 500+ mile challenge set by Mr Best as part of his fundraiser, although not all of it was dressed up as Darth Vader.

He has run several marathons and 50-mile ultramarathons and completed the Bacchus Wine Run 10K in Surrey in September in his costume.

Future plans include the Centurion Autumn 100 Mile Ultra Marathon on October 15th, the Centurion Wendover Woods 50 Mile Ultra Marathon on November 5th and the Valencia Marathon on December 4th.

“One of my running friends ran as Darth Vader in the London Marathon about 10 years ago and just mentioned he still has the costume,” said Mr Best, a member of the South London Harriers Running Club.

“I’ve been getting more and more injuries from running so I knew I wasn’t going to run a particularly good time so I just decided to make the day more of a fun run with no time pressure.

“I’ve run London twice before and also volunteered there on a number of occasions, so you know what a great event it is, with great support from start to finish, so it seemed like a great way to spread the word spread, interact with crowds, etc.

“I had costume training before the race to work out the chafing and make final adjustments.”

Mr Best, who is also running director for mental health charity Run Talk Run and organizes free weekly 5k runs in Coulsdon, is one of 180 London Marathon runners raising money for Prostate Cancer UK.

– To sponsor Simon, visit https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Simon-Best1963

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https://www.newschainonline.com/news/darth-vader-runs-marathon-fundraiser-following-prostate-cancer-diagnosis-295748 Darth Vader runs marathon fundraiser after being diagnosed with prostate cancer

Mike Fahey

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