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Broadcaster, soap star and former Love Islander reveal impact of prostate cancer

Katie McGlynn, Jenny Powell and Arabella Chi (Gemma Huntingford/PA)
Katie McGlynn, Jenny Powell and Arabella Chi (Gemma Huntingford/PA)

Loose Women star Jenny Powell, Coronation Street actress Katie McGlynn and former Love Island contestant Arabella Chi have discussed the impact prostate cancer has had on their lives ahead of a Father’s Day charity campaign.

The all-star female cast have shared heartbreaking personal stories and messages of hope for new film The Sit Down to raise awareness and funds for charity Prostate Cancer UK.

Powell, whose father came from Africa and escaped apartheid, said Father’s Day will be “tricky” this year as his death less than a year ago is still “very raw”.

She said: “My story about prostate cancer is about my dad and he only died, it wasn’t that long ago in July and he had prostate cancer and I think when I look back I felt so naive.

“One in eight men in the UK will get prostate cancer, I didn’t even know that. He always used to go on about the fact he never went to hospital, not once.”

McGlynn recalled a similar story about her grandfather Denis, who had “never taken a paracetamol in his life”, and added that “everybody was just floored” when he was diagnosed with prostate cancer because he was the “glue” of their family.

The actress, who plays Sinead Tinker on the famous cobbles, said: “He was like my second dad, I’ve never seen my family broken like that before. They said he had six months but he ended up having it for two-and-a-half years, he was a fighter.”

McGlynn said she used to watch soaps on TV with her grandfather and he held her hand throughout her career, taking her to drama classes every week.

She added: “I got the part in Waterloo Road and he used to say ‘Katie, when are you getting a part on Corrie, what are you doing on Waterloo, you need to get on Corrie’.

“I remember he passed away and within a couple of weeks I had an audition on Coronation Street and I had never had one before.

“Seven-and-a-half years later I got an award for doing a storyline on cancer so it’s just bizarre.”

Chi, whose father and uncle were diagnosed with prostate cancer within a month of each other, said: “I feel like people don’t talk about it enough, especially women.

Katie McGlynn, Jenny Powell and Arabella Chi (Gemma Huntingford/PA)

“I feel like my story is a bit more positive, my dad and my uncle both had the operation to have their prostate removed.

“Immediately you think the worst but then you start looking at the options and think, thank goodness we caught it when we did.

“My dad having it meant my uncle did the test, had we not caught it when we did I probably wouldn’t have a dad or an uncle now.”

Model Chi added that her father would not have seen her enter the Love Island villa in 2019 had he not been diagnosed early.

In the film, the female celebrities discuss a gender imbalance in medical checks and screenings, calling on women to help support the men in their lives to look after their health.

Chi said: “We’ve all got men in our lives and we’re all so in tune to ‘check your breasts’ and ‘cervical screenings’. Men don’t have that.”

McGlynn added: “I just feel like if we had a test that would make them go and the women in their life would make them go.

“That’s why I’m happy we’re here today to kind of represent the women who are affected by it. We don’t have prostates, but we’re still affected.” 

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in fathers, Prostate Cancer UK says (Gemma Huntingford/PA)

Laura Kerby, chief executive of Prostate Cancer UK, said: “Father’s Day is a moment to reflect on the men who have shaped our lives, whether in celebration or remembrance. Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in dads and will take 30 men from us this Father’s Day alone. But we have the power to change this.

“Prostate cancer can often be cured if it’s caught early enough, and with the development of an effective screening programme that could accurately test and diagnose men earlier, we could save thousands of lives each year. But we need the science to help us get there and the funding for this vital research.

“We believe in a future where men’s lives are not limited by prostate cancer. Men, we are with you.”  

The Sit Down series also features films with Star Wars actor Andy Secombe, broadcaster Dr David Bull and The Who and Small Faces drummer Kenney Jones.