Heck! owner who lost his father to cancer calls for more screening in lead up to Father's Day

An effective screening programme is urgently needed to combat the most devastating strain of cancer among men, the founder of one of Yorkshire’s best known companies has warned, amid calls to reverse the tide on the hidden stigma surrounding it.

Andrew Keeble and son Jamie of HECK! sausages who have launched a fathers day sausage in support of Prostate Cancer UK to raise awareness after Andrews father died of the disease. The pack can be signed like a card as a gift for Fathers day. Image: Glen Minikin

Andrew Keeble, who founded sausage company Heck! Food in Bedale with son Jamie, lost his father Mike to prostate cancer at the age of 77 just three years after his diagnosis.

As the business launches a campaign in the run up to Father’s Day to further support research into the devastating illness, which is a bigger killer than breast cancer, he calls for greater backing to ensure better testing and research.

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“Prostate cancer is absolutely something we can do something about,” he said. “Men are often too embarrassed, or too shy, or too ruddy stubborn, to get it checked out.

Grandfather Mike Keeble.

“There is no national screening programme for men, and it’s high time we did something about that.”

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Prostate cancer is the UK’s most common cancer among men, with over 40,000 new cases diagnosed every year. In Yorkshire, over 30,000 men are living with the disease, and there are nearly a thousands deaths every year.

Instead of a screening programme in the UK, there is an informed choice programme where men over 50 can ask their GPs for a test.

Andrew Keeble and son Jamie of HECK! sausages who have launched a fathers day sausage in support of Prostate Cancer UK to raise awareness after Andrews father died of the disease. Image: Glen Minikin

Leading charity Prostate Cancer UK says it is committed to securing a suitable screening programme, but warns vital research is currently at risk, calling for public support.

“We desperately need an effective screening programme for prostate cancer to help us stop so many men dying from this disease,” said Amy Rylance, the charity’s head of improving care at Prostate Cancer UK. “However, current tests simply aren’t reliable enough to use as part of a national screening programme.

“We need tests that will provide early and accurate diagnosis of significant cancers before they spread outside the prostate, without over-diagnosing men with low-risk cancers, who can safely avoid or delay invasive tests and treatments that can often come with life-changing side-effects.”

Grandfather of 10 Mike Keeble, a farmer at East Witton, had been diagnosed when he approached his GP after experiencing difficulties. By then, it was too late, his son says, as he urges men over 50 to pro-actively seek out testing.

The pack of Heck! sausages can be signed like a card as a gift for Fathers day. Image Glen Minikin.

“He had a full and happy life, it’s just such a shame it was cut too short,” said Mr Keeble, 54.

“There is a lack of awareness, and a fear. Many men are too frightened to get it checked. If we find it in time, there is absolutely something we can do.

“I’d really like to see how we can get a screening system in place, similar to breast cancer.”

Father's Day sausages

A special pack of sausages is being launched by Heck! Foods in the run up to Father’s Day next weekend, with a donation from every pack sold going to Prostate Cancer UK.

The sausages will be sold in over 10,000 stores through this coming week, and come with a blank card for buyers to write personalised Father’s Day messages.

The company has also pledged a £5,000 starting donation for the charity.

“This is about a pack of sausages, but you can write a message for your dad on it, urging them to get it checked out,” said Mr Keeble. “All charities are having a hard time right now. We are just doing what we can to raise awareness.”

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