BBC Breakfast star Nick Owen, 75, relives the moment doctors told him he had ‘aggressive’ prostate cancer – as Luton Town FC sends support
Broadcaster Nick Owen has described the shock of finding out he has ‘aggressive’ prostate cancer as the ‘worst day of my life’ – but vowed to return to TV – as his beloved Luton Town sent him their love and support.
The former TV-am star, 75, revealed the devastating news just weeks after his co-star Anne Diamond, 68, revealed she is battling breast cancer and has undergone a mastectomy.
Mr Owen said he had no symptoms and it ‘came out of the blue’ when a specialist told him he had the disease ‘full-on’. He said hearing the prognosis had been ‘probably the worst day of my life’.
He spoke yesterday about the debilitating impact the condition has had on his life following his recent absence from BBC One’s Midlands Today.
The journalist was chairman of Luton Town between 2008 and 2017. The club, which enjoyed a sensational promotion to the Premier League in May, tweeted: ‘Best wishes for your recovery from all of your fellow Hatters, Nick. We are with you every step of the way and look forward to seeing you back at Kenilworth Road very soon’.
There has been an outpouring of support for the veteran presenter, who took to Twitter today to thank people individually.
Devastating: BBC Television presenter Nick Owen, 75, (pictured) has been diagnosed with prostate cancer
Nick’s beloved Luton Town have sent their support
Heartbreaking: The news comes just weeks after his former Good Morning with Anne and Nick co-host Anne Diamond, 68, (pictured in 1992) revealed she had been battling breast cancer
Owen, 75, spoke yesterday about the debilitating impact the condition has had on his life following his recent absence from BBC One’s Midlands Today.
He told the news programme: ‘I went to a specialist, he wasn’t too worried because my figures weren’t that high.
‘But he decided I ought to have a scan, and then the scan said there’s something dodgy going on, and then he sent me for a biopsy, which he did.
‘And the results of that were the killer – on April the 13th, a date (which) will forever be imprinted on my mind.
‘He told us that it was extensive, really, and aggressive, and I had prostate cancer full-on, and something needed to be done pretty fast.
‘And that was probably the worst day of my life, or certainly one of them.’
He added: ‘It was a very grim moment… driving home after that sort of news and ringing people, texting people, my phone went crazy for hours on end.
‘And it was a very, very difficult time for me, and indeed for my wife Vicki, who was by my side all the time through this, you know.’
Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men in the UK. One in eight men will get prostate cancer at some point in their lives and more than 52,000 new cases are diagnosed every year.
A BBC spokesman said: ‘Nick has been one of the faces of Midlands Today for more than 25 years. Our viewers and his colleagues have missed him dearly in recent weeks.
Support: Owen is being supported by wife Vicki Beevers, who he married in July 2020
Second marriage: Owen married Vicki having previously been married to Jill Lavery, with whom he has four children
Pair: Along with their stint on TV-am, Anne and Nick had their own current affairs morning programme on the BBC in the 1990s, Good Morning With Anne And Nick
Difficult time: Anne fought back tears as she confirmed she was battling the disease in an interview on GB News
Diagnosis: Owen said his doctor told him the disease ‘was extensive, really, and aggressive, and I had prostate cancer full-on, and something needed to be done pretty fast’ (pictured in 2018)
‘We can’t wait to welcome him back to the studio as soon as he’s ready. We all wish him a speedy recovery.’
Owen married Vicki Beevers in July 2020, having previously been married to Jill Lavery, with whom he has four children.
The former chairman of Luton Town Football Club is also known for his broadcasting collaboration with journalist Anne Diamond.
The pair ran their own current affairs morning programme on the BBC in the 1990s, Good Morning With Anne And Nick.
Anne, now a GB News presenter, announced in June that she has been diagnosed with breast cancer.
The 68-year-old fought back tears as she confirmed she was battling the disease in an interview on GB News at the time.
She recalled how she was given the news by doctors on the same day she was awarded an OBE and said it had been ‘a hell of a journey’.
Anne had been off air for almost six months and is still undergoing ‘tough’ treatment for the illness, including radiotherapy.
Battle: Mother-of-five Anne revealed she is still undergoing ‘tough’ treatment after taking months off work to focus on fighting cancer
Unwell: Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men in the UK. One in eight men will get prostate cancer at some point in their lives
She said it had been a ‘fight’ and after five months ‘I’m still not at the end of the journey, but I’m through it enough to come back to work’.
Anne said: ‘It was a wonderful moment [being told about the OBE] and that was [at] 9.30 in the morning.
‘But I knew then, because I’d already seen my GP, that I had to go to a breast cancer screening thing later in the morning. I thought I would just go for a mammogram, and a couple of tests and I’d be free in an hour.
‘I spent the entire morning at my local hospital where they did everything, biopsies, X-rays, CT scans, a couple of mammograms, everything, and by lunchtime I was still there.
‘And a lovely lady came with a lanyard around her neck that said MacMillan Cancer Care and I knew then it was serious.’
The mother-of-five revealed she is still undergoing ‘tough’ treatment after taking months off work to focus on fighting cancer.
She added: ‘I don’t have any advice for people because I’m still going through it. But I’m well enough to return to work. I had the full works, the full mastectomy.
Illness: Anne, pictured with Nick Owen on TV-am in 1985, received her diagnosis on the same day she was told she would be given an OBE
Tough: Talking about his diagnosis, Owen said: ‘It was a very, very difficult time for me, and indeed for my wife Vicki, who was by my side all the time through this, you know’
‘God, this is the first time I’ve talked about it, so it’s quite difficult but I’ve had the full works. The first operation I had was nine hours long.
‘I don’t remember it. I was in and out like that, but nine hours of removal and rebuild, that took a lot of getting over and then I had an operation later where they took out lymph nodes as well, just to make sure they can trace the travel, if the cancer has travelled at all to the rest of the body. Luckily I don’t think it did.
‘I’ve had a load of radiotherapy, which I found very hard too.
‘So it’s been a journey, but I’m not pretending for a minute that I am extraordinary, because I am fully aware that a quarter of women in this country are going through what I’ve just gone through and I don’t have any advice to give. I only have empathy.’
According to the NHS, prostate cancer mainly affects men over 50 and the risk increases with age. It is more common in black men or men with with a family history of prostate cancer.
WHAT IS PROSTATE CANCER?
How many people does it kill?
More than 11,800 men a year – or one every 45 minutes – are killed by the disease in Britain, compared with about 11,400 women dying of breast cancer.
It means prostate cancer is behind only lung and bowel in terms of how many people it kills in Britain.
In the US, the disease kills 26,000 men each year.
Despite this, it receives less than half the research funding of breast cancer and treatments for the disease are trailing at least a decade behind.
How many men are diagnosed annually?
Every year, upwards of 52,300 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer in the UK – more than 140 every day.
How quickly does it develop?
Prostate cancer usually develops slowly, so there may be no signs someone has it for many years, according to the NHS.
If the cancer is at an early stage and not causing symptoms, a policy of ‘watchful waiting’ or ‘active surveillance’ may be adopted.
Some patients can be cured if the disease is treated in the early stages.
But if it is diagnosed at a later stage, when it has spread, then it becomes terminal and treatment revolves around relieving symptoms.
Thousands of men are put off seeking a diagnosis because of the known side effects from treatment, including erectile dysfunction.
Tests and treatment
Tests for prostate cancer are haphazard, with accurate tools only just beginning to emerge.
There is no national prostate screening programme as for years the tests have been too inaccurate.
Doctors struggle to distinguish between aggressive and less serious tumours, making it hard to decide on treatment.
Men over 50 are eligible for a ‘PSA’ blood test which gives doctors a rough idea of whether a patient is at risk.
But it is unreliable. Patients who get a positive result are usually given a biopsy which is also not fool-proof.
Scientists are unsure as to what causes prostate cancer, but age, obesity and a lack of exercise are known risks.
Anyone with any concerns can speak to Prostate Cancer UK’s specialist nurses on 0800 074 8383 or visit prostatecanceruk.org
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