This sportsman has prostate cancer – but he’s battling it and says men should follow his advice and fight it too.

Les Millie was an ice hockey warrior who never ducked a challenge when he donned the shirt of the Sheffield Steelers.

Now, though, the retired skater faces the biggest test of his life….he has prostate cancer.

Les, a 46-year-old father and grandfather living in Kiveton, is fighting – and controlling – the condition. 

And he wants others to get clued up on a disease that kills more people in the UK than breast cancer.

He is determined to highlight a sensible practice that many men of a certain age shy away from – the undergoing of regular checks that could save their lives.

He also wants to help brush away “the stigma” of men discussing health issues.

The one-time sportsman is now a manager for GSF Cars in Darnall. He has a good life, a growing family...and is determined to spread the word about prostate cancer...chiefly persuade men not to fear medical intervention and seek out the screening process.

“The tests and procedures are really not as bad as you think it will be. It’s over quickly...and they are worth every second” he says.

This is 'Laser' Les' story, in his own words.

*******************************************************

Les Millie. Pic by Bob Westerdale

Les Millie. Pic by Bob Westerdale

We had been on holiday to Gran Canaria in August and when I came back I just didn't feel right.

At first, I thought it was over-indulgence, but I kept feeling tired and under par when you should be coming back refreshed.

So I made an appointment and within two or three days I went for some blood tests to see if there was anything underlying.

I was told a normal PSA (Prostate Specific Antigen marker)  level is around 2.1 or 2.2 but when my results came it was 6.3. It was a big discrepancy.

Steelers v Cardiff..... Les Millie on the boards

Steelers v Cardiff..... Les Millie on the boards

Obviously, I thought about the worst-case scenario and my wife Sonia was very concerned.

I went to Rotherham General Hospital and had a two-minute examination. 

Later, I was told there seemed to be an abnormality. Actually, I was fine, about that, I had made my peace with, it a bit, but my wife was a bag of nerves.

Next was a biopsy, which I must confess it was pretty nerve-wracking beforehand, it was the fear of not knowing what to expect.

There was a little discomfort - it feels like electric is going through you internally - and a bit scary, but not massively painful.

I was given antibiotics, told not to anything strenuous and waited – but I resigned myself that I had prostate cancer.

Prostate Cancer UK

Prostate Cancer UK

It was a hard time for my wife, she thought I was being blase about it. But there was not a lot I could do about it. It was a very, very long two weeks before I went back to the hospital where they told me I did have prostate cancer.

At least now I knew exactly what I was dealing with.

There was a further bombshell when another abnormality was found and I had a second biopsy but thankfully there was nothing else there.

It turns out my cancer is a slow, though, a low-rate one. 

It is contained and is one of the most treatable of all cancers, if caught early.

So there were a few options 

Radiotherapy, surgery or finally 'active surveillance' - which is what they suggested for me and is quite commonly used.

That means new PSA checks every six months, which will tell me if it's fluctuating or not.

I know at some time I might have to have something else done. But for now, it is controlled.

So my glass is half full and half empty.

I am doing things I would normally do and can live my life without interruptions. I’m happy.

Every six months I'll go for blood tests but other than that I won't give it another thought until the next appointment letter drops through the door. Life goes on.

****************************

A positive spin-off has been that I have got healthier since I found out I had cancer!

I am more active, eating healthier, I’ve lost weight and keeping strong to do my best to keep it at bay.

Some guys hit the bottle or do drugs when something like that happens but I just see it as just another hurdle, another challenge to overcome.

Millions of men go through this, although there is a stigma about men's health, still.

Men don't like talking about it, I don't know whether they think it is a sign of weakness. Maybe it is a bravado thing.

But that’s stupid...a man dies from prostate cancer every 45 minutes in the UK.

So it needs awareness and a better profile.

So my advice is for men to go for regular checks and ask your doctor and leave it to the professionals.

Everything that happens in the checks is worth either the peace of mind or in my case finding out what the situation is and how to deal with it.

If you have a problem, trust your physician. They have been fantastic for me, I have wanted for nothing.

And the speed they dealt with me was phenomenal.

Blokes should get an MOT - it is not as daunting as you’d think.

Forget that:  'I'll be fine, it won't happen to me' way of thinking

Cancer does not discriminate - it will go for anybody and a simple blood test can put your mind at rest.

Even the internal examinations amount only to a little discomfort for a short period of time.

It really isn't as bad as guys think.

*********************

Support has been great from my family, friends and the ice hockey community.

My wife, son Daniel, 25, and daughter Heather, 15, are fully in the picture and have been a great help.

As for hockey, team mates and even old foes have been on - I really didn't expect the support I'd had from them.

Guys from 20 years ago and more have been in touch.

Even Nottingham Panthers old boys!

It has all been a blast from the past and great.

On line, I have had words of support, advice, video clips the lot.

I don't want people to feel sorry for me, I don't feel sorry for myself.  I just want people to do the right things for themselves like I am doing.

Be positive and get the tests or help you need. After all, what's the point of being negative?

The Prostate Cancer UK organisation can be found on line. Or call 0800 0748383

Their stated aim is "to stop men dying from prostate cancer. Through shifting the science to focus on radical improvements in diagnosis, treatment, prevention, and support, we will stop prostate cancer being a killer."

*************

Warning signs of prostate cancer:

A  burning feeling while urinating or during ejaculation.

A frequent need to urinate.

Blood in urine or semen.

Pain in the bones.

Erectile dysfunction.

Les Millie. Pic by Bob Westerdale

Les Millie. Pic by Bob Westerdale

Les Millie in his playing days

Les Millie in his playing days