Comedian Sir Lenny Henry CBE is urging men to take their prostate health seriously and “overcome the embarrassment” of being tested, revealing it is no laughing matter.
The 62-year-old comic, actor, singer, writer and television presenter is supporting the work of the innovative #PlayDominoTalkProstate initiative launched by the Leicester-based Centre for BME Health.
In a short YouTube interview, Sir Lenny praises the campaign launched by Pamela Campbell-Morris, the Project Initiator and Community Champion at the Centre for BME Health, and urged men to look up the work of the project, which encourages men to talk about their health concerns.
Sir Lenny said: “The Centre for BME Health has done a brilliant job with the Play Domino Effect because it’s very tricky sometimes with African and African Caribbean men to get them talking about problems that are so intimate. They need something to get them there and I think dominoes, curry goat and rice are the perfect thing.”
The Dudley-born comedian, known for co-founding the Comic Relief charity fundraiser, revealed he has undergone four tests in recent years.
He added: “There are over 48,000 cases of prostate cancer announced every day. It’s a crazy statistic affecting one in eight men, one in four black men in particular, so it’s obviously something we need to be very attentive to.
“We need to research the symptoms, look for them and go and get ourselves checked and not be scared. We’ve got to get over that finger up the batty thing!
“I’ve been tested three or four times in the last few years and at first it’s embarrassing but when you’re given the all clear it’s wonderful, and if you’re not then at least you know and can do something about it.
“There’s no point in living in ignorance. It’s really important to go and get tested so that things can be dealt with. There’s also genetics, you can pass it on to your family so you want to make sure you’ve been tested and that none of your family are at risk and you know that you’ll feel better if you’ve been tested. So I think no matter how embarrassing it is to be tested for it I think it will be a weight off your mind.
“Often you can operate in ignorance, but if you can overcome embarrassment then you won’t be ignorant anymore.”
Pamela Campbell-Morris said: “I hope that men from African and African Caribbean communities will listen to Sir Lenny’s serious message.
“The #PlayDominoTalkProstate campaign is all about raising awareness, and encouraging men, predominantly amongst those of African and African Caribbean communities, to support each other by talking about their concerns. Together we can all work together to shake off the embarrassment and give them the courage to go and get tested.”
Professor Kamlesh Khunti, who is the Director of NIHR ARC East Midlands and is also Professor of Primary Care Diabetes and Vascular Medicine at the University of Leicester, said: “It is vitally important that men put fear aside and follow Sir Lenny’s steps by getting themselves checked for this preventable disease.”
Prostate problems can cause urinary symptoms, such as needing to rush to the toilet or needing to go more often than normal, however urinary symptoms are usually caused by problems that aren’t cancer such as an enlarged prostate or a urine infection.