Rugby ace Paul Hutton is on a mission to break down the barriers surrounding prostate and testicular cancer throughout the male population.
Along with fellow Stowmarket-based players Dan Garrard and Joe Fifield, Hutton belongs to the Crusaders Rugby Club, an invitational international team that was initially made up entirely of cancer survivors, family and close friends of cancer sufferers.
Formed in 2008, and sponsored by world famous Canterbury sportswear, the team, made up of former internationals and professionals, compete in prestigious Sevens tournaments around the world, educating and encouraging hundreds of people about the simple symptoms of the cancers that effect men with the slogan ‘tackling male cancer in rugby before it tackles us’.
Reports show in general that men tend not to go to the doctors with an alarming 41 per cent of prostate cancer patients leaving it over a year before seeking medical help, even when showing symptoms, an issue Hutton is well aware of.
“Illness is often seen as an inconvenience or weakness and most men feel that lump or symptom will go away if left long enough,” he said.
“When it comes to testicular cancer, men generally haven’t got a clue how to self examine, quite simply men are dying of embarrassment and lack of knowledge.
“Actions speak louder than words, we all know the words prostate and testicular, but they go in one ear and out the other in most cases.
“A key aim is to raise the level of knowledge surrounding the symptoms of male cancers among others, encouraging early medical engagement.
“I’m fortunate enough that I haven’t suffered from cancer myself, but I have family who have and this team is a great way of raising the issues and helping great causes fight the problem.
“The key message for us is about raising awareness. Men are extremely shy about asking for advice and believe it won’t happen to them, but it will and only get worse.
“Rugby by its very nature helps to break down these barriers and tournaments are the best way to spread the messages.”
Such tournaments have seen the Crusaders win competitions such as the Edinburgh Sevens and compete in events such as the National Corporate Sevens with high profile teams such as Jaguar and Hilton Hotels earlier this month at Leicester Tigers’ Welford Road stadium.
Although the original make-up of the team has altered as the club attempt to compete at a higher level, the message and core values remain very much the same.
“Originally only cancer survivors or friends of those could play for the team, but that has been lifted as the level we now play at is international level,” he added.
“However, we feel the bigger the stage we can play on, the bigger the message we can get across.
“Rugby is a close-knit community and word soon spreads among the national and international fraternity of such an organisation, the momentum and subsequent support has been overwhelming.
“However, we feel we need to shout about the issues more than we do now.
“People follow us on the back of us winning games and wanting to know more about us, but our key strategy of raising awareness needs to be stronger.
“We are striving to continue to play on the biggest stages and so it is up to us to communicate our message for what is such an important subject.”
n If you would like to know more about the Crusaders or help sponsor their efforts against the issues surrounding prostate and testicular cancer then you can contact Paul Hutton at email@example.com