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Former player and manager Brian Horton opens up on his battle with cancer

Former player and manager Brian Horton opens up on his battle with cancer, making the admission as he joins up with the #ProstateFC team.

Brian Horton spent 16 years as a professional player and 22 years as a manager, making 689 appearances and managing 1,098 matches. In addition to this he spent four years as a semi-professional player and around 11 years as a coach and assistant manager.

Brian made appearances for the likes of Hednesford, Port Vale, Brighton, Luton and Hull, while also going into management with Hull City, Oxford United, Man City, Huddersfield, Brighton, Port Vale and Macclesfield Town.

But more recently, the 74 year old said that he had a check-up in April and was diagnosed a month later after a friend told him to get tested due to his age. Now he had urged other men to get themselves checked.

He gave details of other members of his family having cancer, to which doctors told him to have a full body scan as a precaution.

It was Steve Parkin, the current assistant manager at League Two club Wrexham, who convinced him to sign up for the routine health check, which was offered by the League Managers Association at a hospital in Cheshire where doctor Sally Harris was concerned by the test results and sent him for a scan.

In a short video, he said: “I’m Brian Horton and I’m living with prostate cancer. I took it okay, it was more of a hard thing to do to have to tell my family my children that was the most difficult thing because it’s that word isn’t it that you have to live through and I’ve lived through that because my older brother’s got cancer as we speak uh so it made me realise I needed to put it out if it helps other people go for tests early then I think it’s it’s worthwhile doing it.

“Now I’m signing for Prostate FC one in 8 men get prostate cancer check your prostate cancer risk in 30 seconds and find out what you can do about it.”

Brian Horton was still coming to terms with the diagnosis. “I had no symptoms and had never felt better. If they hadn’t told me, I would never have known.

“Cancer is a big word. It’s a word everybody dreads. My daughter was expecting a baby and I didn’t want to tell her. I didn’t tell her until later, because I didn’t want her worrying.

“But they told me luckily they had caught it early, it was small and treatable. I feel very positive about it, really. Most footballers are generally positive. Go and get tested, that’s the message.

He is planning for brachytherapy – a type of radiotherapy where tiny radioactive seeds are put into your prostate.

Supporting him is Doctor Jon Bell, son of ex-Man City player Colin Bell.  

Brian continued: “The first time we talked about it was during the FA Cup final between City and United at Wembley. I pulled Jon aside for a few minutes and he was so calm and talked me through things. Him, and all the doctors and nurses have been hugely supportive.” 

Brian, who starts treatment towards the end of the year, said he was persuaded to speak out by Mick Harford, while he has the support of some of his former teammates at Luton Town. 

“I saw Mick Harford at the Brighton versus Luton game, and Mick (who has prostate cancer himself) asked me if I was going to talk publicly about it. I’d been discussing it with people, with my wife and family and it was Mick who made me realise that it was very, very important. If it helps other men at risk of prostate cancer seek advice from their GP, then I think it’s worthwhile doing it.” 

Following an annual health check through his affiliation with the League Managers Association – a membership body for football managers and long-term partner of Prostate Cancer UK – a possible prostate problem was flagged and further investigation revealed Brian had prostate cancer. Luckily for Brian, he’s responded well to treatment and wants to talk about his experience to make sure the football family is fully aware of the dangers of the most common cancer in men.

“The LMA and the doctors who supported me thought it was important to speak out. Also from my own point of view now, where I’ve got to the point of recognising that I’ve got it and I’m having treatment, if it helps other men at risk of prostate cancer go for tests early, then I think it’s worthwhile doing it.”

Prostate Cancer UK chief executive Laura Kerby said: “Brian’s story is a stark reminder of the dangers of prostate cancer, the most common cancer in men.

“Unfortunately, early prostate cancer usually doesn’t have any symptoms, which is why men need to be aware of their risk and should take our online risk checker to find out more. 

“It’s encouraging to hear his treatment path is underway and we thank him for speaking out about prostate cancer in the football community.

“We are proud at our long-term partnership with the League Managers Association and their members, and that’s been critical in delivering this important message.”

LMA Chief Executive Richard Bevan said: “Our members’ health is extremely important to us and remains a significant area of support that we provide to them and their families 

“The LMA is proud to have built such a strong and powerful partnership with Prostate Cancer UK. Our members have engaged magnificently with the charity’s work in so many different ways for more than nine years now, and that work has proved to be life changing.” 

Prostate cancer is curable if caught early, but early-stage prostate cancer often has no symptoms, so it is vital that men know their risk. Men are at higher risk if they are over 50, Black or have a father or brother who has had prostate cancer.

Over 1.9 million people have completed Prostate Cancer UK’s award-winning risk checker. You can check your risk in the next 30 seconds here: prostatecanceruk.org/riskcheck

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