Steve’s March for Men Story
Sitting in a cosy corner of the Royal Bournemouth Hospital’s Oasis Cafe, 64-year-old Steve Maidment’s cheerful, friendly face shows no signs of unease at returning to the hospital where he faced the toughest challenge of his life.
After first visiting his GP with what appeared to be just abnormal stomach trouble, Steve later received the diagnosis that would change not only his life, but the lives of his whole family.
“It all started when I was having a lot of problems with my stomach and going to the toilet,” explains Steve. “I went to see my doctors and one of them said ‘you’ve got piles’, but a week later, I was still in agony.
“I came to Royal Bournemouth Hospital for a colonoscopy, and they discovered that I had a tumor in my colon. I had cancer.
“The first thing you think of is ‘oh my God… I’m going to die’. But my wife Karen said to me, ‘look, you’re not going anywhere. You’ve got a lot more years to go yet before you’re going anywhere’”.
With hardly any time to process the news, Steve was scheduled for an operation later that same month at the Royal Bournemouth Hospital to have the tumor removed and a colostomy bag temporarily fitted.
“I found everybody on the ward was just so friendly and so nice to me,” Steve explains. “There were people in that ward with worse conditions then what I had, so looking at it generally, sometimes I felt that I was the lucky one.”
But even with the tumor removed, the journey was still only just beginning for Steve and his family with a six month course of chemotherapy tablets at home following his operation. Steve is the first to admit that the experience of living with cancer affected him more ways than just physically.
“I was one of these guys who’s always cracking jokes and laughing with everybody – my nickname’s ‘Madders’, because I always do strange things at strange times!,” laughs Steve. “But once the reality of cancer hit home, my life changed.
“We live opposite a social club and I have a lot of friends there, but for three months, I couldn’t bring myself to go near anybody. I felt embarrassed. Embarrassed about the way I looked. I didn’t want people to see me like that.
“But I had people constantly knocking on my door wanting to see me and asking how I was and, in the end, I got back to the club and started seeing everyone and I realised how many people actually did care for me. You don’t realise that at the time.
“So looking back to those three months, I should’ve gone back to see everyone and say hello and let them know how I was doing. I’ve learnt now that for anybody else who may go through that, you must continue your life as normal as possible.”
Steve is just one of over 150,000 men treated at the Royal Bournemouth Hospital every year – thousands of whom face acute urological conditions or even cancers like colon or prostate cancers.
It’s because of this that the Bournemouth Hospital Charity is proud to host ‘March for Men’ – an annual challenge on the beachfront over one kilometre, five kilometres or ten kilometres to raise money for resources and equipment that help our staff face the many challenges that comprise modern men’s health issues.
After learning that, thankfully, his cancer was now in remission, Steve and son Billy decided to enter March for Men the following year. With the father-son team running together in matching ‘My Dad Will Beat It / I Will Beat It’ shirts, Steve says the event had a strong impact on him.
“We did March for Men in 2015, because of the fact that I’d had cancer and I wanted to help as much as I can,” Steve recalls. “I wanted to help other people going through it – what they were going through.
“I did the five kilometre run and my son Billy did the 10km. I was walking very fast at the start because I couldn’t run to start with. I nearly got taken out in the first few hundred metres by a guy with a walking stick!
“I couldn’t believe how many people in the general public were coming up on the run and saying ‘oh, well done! Well done!’ because of what we had on the back of our t-shirts. And for maybe the first time in my life, I felt that I was really doing something important. I’d never considered myself much of an ‘important’ person, but it felt like I was doing something to help the cause – the fight back against cancer.
“It was such a fantastic day. And crossing the finish line was just a really great feeling.”
This year, March for Men is aiming to raise money for important new equipment that will allow the Royal Bournemouth Hospital to treat even more men facing cancer.
A ‘blue light cystoscopy’ machine will help our consultants to better identify cancer cells in the bladder and confirm they are all removed following operations, while new ‘TURIS’ equipment will help make treatment of prostate cancer patients more effective as well as comfortable.
Having lived with cancer himself, Steve is urging all men in the area as well as their loved ones to get involved and support this year’s March for Men on Sunday 19 March.
“I think it’s very important to support the event,” says Steve.
“A lot of men can be stubborn and with bowel cancer, there’s so much done for that. Don’t be frightened. Go for the tests. Do everything you possibly can, because the longer you leave it, the harder it gets.”