Hatters hero Mick Harford is determined to raise awareness of prostate cancer after going public with his own fight
Town number two wants to try and prevent others from getting the disease
If Luton legend Mick Haford can help one prevent one person from getting prostate cancer then he will have achieved what he set out to do after going public with his own fight against the disease this week.
The 62-year-old revealed on Monday that he was taking a step away from his role as assistant manager, in which he supports boss Nathan Jones in the dug-out on a match-day and with training at the Brache, to undergo a three month course of radiotherapy treatment.
Although the former Luton player, coach, manager and head of recruitment has described the fight as his 'biggest yet', typically he didn’t want any fuss made over his diagnosis, which he had received over eight months ago, and fight the illness out of the public eye
However, it was when he realised that by shining a light on his own personal battle, it might raise awareness of the disease and persuade others to get tested, when they might have dismissed the idea of doing so beforehand.
In a press conference on Thursday afternoon, Harford said: “I think that’s the main reason.
“Obviously I want to get better, I don’t want people to contract this disease, it’s a terrible disease and getting cancer is not very nice.
“But the main reason for it is to encourage people to go and get tested, to make people aware of that disease and anyone can catch it, anyone can get it, anyone can contract it.
“After a chat with Gary (Sweet, chief executive), Nathan (Jones) and a few other people at the football club, I spoke to Stuart Hammonds our press officer, and the first thing he did was get tested.
“So I thought ‘can I help people? Can I get a simple message out to people to encourage them to go and get tested?’
“It encouraged me to go public and I didn’t really have any sense that it would have this impact on myself.
“I’m just pleased that it’s going to make people aware of it.
“Personally, I started thinking about the Luton Town fans.
“There’s 10,000 fans, not all are men, but the people who turn up to Kenilworth Road, if I can help any of them, then I’ll be delighted.
“But also if I can help anyone, anywhere, that is the main reason we decided to as a football club to put it out there and make people aware of it.
"Hopefully I can just carry on helping people.
“You know what men are like, they leave it and leave it and leave it.
"I’ve had friends who’ve said, ‘I won’t go to the doctors, I don’t want to bother them’. But please, please get yourself tested. It’s so important that you do that.
“It might be nothing, but just go and do it. It’ll save you a lot of heartache.”
Finding out the news has already made Harford himself reevaluate his own lifestyle and make the appropriate changes already, as he is determined to give himself the best possible chance of making a full recovery after his treatment.
He continued: “You think you’re invincible sometimes, we are sportsmen and you think you’ll never get affected by it, but we are vulnerable to this disease.
“How we get it we don’t know.
"I have a feeling it might be my lifestyle, wrong diet, just not living right, in terms of diet and nutrition, but I don’t know.
“We spoke to the consultant about that and he said, 'look, let’s not concentrate on that, let’s concentrate on getting rid of it.'
"Which I thought was a fantastic, positive outlook and thing to say, so that’s where I am.
“My lifestyle has changed though.
“I stopped drinking, I’m not saying I was a heavy drinker but I cut alcohol out of my diet.
“I got myself on a really healthy diet and I feel great for it, I feel fantastic at the moment.
"I feel great on the outside but just on the inside it is not very good.
“It is really bizarre, some days you get a bit down and a bit tired and it takes it out of you a little bit with the side effects of the medication.
“I’ll keep fighting and I will stay strong but I just want to encourage people, I have made a bond with myself to try and help some people."
With prostate cancer affecting one in eight men, usually over the age of 50, and often displaying no symptoms, then Harford urged anyone who was worried to get in touch with their doctor for a check-up.
He added: “I’m really pleased that people came to me who knew before it went out and publicised this disease that a few of my friends had went and had the PSA (Prostate Specific Antigen) test and thankfully they came back negative.
“If the general public have any thoughts, or think they may have it or any symptoms, please go and get tested.
"It doesn’t cost you anything, just a bit of your time and hopefully you will find out and make sure you are okay.
“You can buy your test online, or you can go to your doctor and ask for a PSA test.
"Then you’ll get your numbers back and if your PSA is high they’ll get you in and they’ll scan you and start looking after you, but hopefully the levels are down.
“If you’ve got the symptoms (which can be frequent urination, weak or interrupted urine flow or the need to strain to empty the bladder, to name just three), ring your doctor and get a PSA test.
“I spoke to a lot of people and family and you say 'if I ever get cancer what would you do?'
"You probably want to go around the world, do all those things you want to do, but when you get diagnosed with it, it’s a massive body blow.
"Your whole life comes to a halt and the support I’ve had has been amazing.
"It’s just been very frantic for the last seven, eight months, trying to keep it quiet and I’ve come to the point where I thought the best thing to do was to let people know and I just want to help as many people as I can.”