Birmingham November 3 - In September 2019 in a town near Birmingham an event was held to remember and raise money in memory of an inspirational young man, Dheeraj Patel (DJ) who we sadly loss to his battle of cancer. Dheeraj’s family organised a brilliant activity packed day for all to enjoy as well as to raise money and awareness for the cancer ward at ‘Queen Elizabeth Hospital Charity Birmingham’ where DJ was treated. Friends and family joined them on the day, getting socially active with two cricket matches, rounders, a raffle and of course remembering and reminiscing about Dheeraj.
His dad Jayanti Patel, spoke proudly and lovingly about DJ and thanked all for joining them. “A big thank you to everybody turning up today, it’s very nice to see everyone today and as it’s a charity event it’s been a great day. To everyone who made the donations, and everything we collected today will go to the children’s department at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Charity Birmingham. When you hear the word for cancer, you just want to rip the word out your heart. As soon as you heard that word in your head your life is just different. All our family, the last two years we were just different. But we are god’s children, it’s up to god to take us or leave us. This is a day we held as a charity match because DJ loved charity, especially for children and old people”.
His dad spoke about the Asian community not sharing when such illness come upon families, and yes its personal but he shared his thoughts about how now he sees the importance of sharing such news so that family, friends and members of the community may be able to help depart some expertise or experiences to support you and the family.
Family and friends from all over the UK, from as far as London, Leicester, Preston and Manchester turned up to show their love and support. The adults were involved in the first cricket game and the more interesting game was the 2nd cricket match. Set between the youths of Leicester against the youth of DJ’s home town Tipton. It was an exciting game with everyone giving their best with burning desire to win! Everyone was a winner on the day and all enjoyed the laughter. Thanks to DJ, who has gone but will never be forgotten, we made new memories which we’ll cherish forever. DJ was a kind soul and everywhere he went he touched peoples heart, he continues to do so even today. His sister Vanita Gohil later said “It was a brilliant day! In total we raised £2,983 for Queen Elizabeth’s Hospital Charity Birmingham, as this is where my brother was treated and we wanted to raise money for the cancer wards. It was to create more awareness especially in the Asian community; we just don’t talk about this stuff. My dad did mention in his speech at the end when something like this happens, we tend to keep it a secret in the family and make sure nobody finds out and it’s wrong. In the end I contacted so many people who had experience and it gave a lot of useful advice.”
Vanita added “I urge people to communicate with family talk about any problems you have on your mind or you experience any changes in your body because this could save your life. Do not feel ashamed and worry about what people will think because it is your health and who cares what people think? Asians worry about this too much and the end of the day people need to be able to get as much information they can. For my brother it was too late the cancer had already spread but he still recovered after a year of Chemotherapy. In the end he was given 2 weeks to life which is when I started researching and reaching out to Doctors around the world and getting advice from people in the family. I feel very passionate about this because we need to raise awareness especially for the younger generation, we should lead by example and not feel ashamed. If you feel something is wrong it needs to be dealt with as quickly as possible. Let’s keep positive and keep raising awareness for cancer.”
DJ suffered from testicular cancer and even though testicle cancer is one of the less common cancers it tends to mostly affect men between the ages of 15 – 49 years. Since typical symptoms are painless swelling or lump in one testicle or change in shape or texture of the testicles. It’s very important that you get to know your body, don’t be ashamed of going to your GP if you notice any changes. Around 2,300 men are diagnosed with testicular cancer each year in the UK. It’s a very unusual cancer compared to others as it affects young men and although a uncommon cancer it is the most common cancer to occur in men.
There are different types of testicular cancer differentiated by the cells that the cancer begins in. The most common type of testicular cancer and accounts for around 95% of all cases found in ‘Germ’ cells, which is the type of cell which the body uses to create sperm.
There are main two subtypes:
Seminomas – have become more common in the past 20 years and account for 40 to 45% of testicular cancer.
Non-seminomas – accounts for all the rest of cases and include teratomas, embryonal carcinomas, choriocarcinomas and yolk sac tumours.
It’s very important to always check yourself and like stated before go to see your GP and talk to them because both these types of cancer respond well to chemotherapy.
The two less common testicular cancer are:
Leydig cell tumours accounting for 1-3% of cases and Sertoli cell tumours which account for less than 1%.
One of the main messages to give out within this event was to always be aware of symptoms of cancer and any unusual lumps and bumps found regardless of where they are you should inquire with your GP at the earliest stage of noticing. This could possibly help save your life. Experts say seeking help too late, is causing preventable deaths. The cultural expectations and stigma surrounding cancer in South Asian communities is a widespread problem in itself spanning from different diseases. There is a reluctance for Asian people going to go to their GP or even tell someone if they fear such abnormalities they come across in their bodies.
Its time not to be ashamed or think that you need to keep it to yourself, but to be brave and do not suffer unnecessarily or on your own. National screening statistics show people from ethnic minority communities do not go for screening as much as their white counterparts. Don’t let the stigma surrounding cancer affect you or someone close to you.
Here are some links and stories of others who have also experience cancer, hopefully this provides some useful information and creates awareness: