Student Elliot has a ‘ballsy’ role for men’s health charity
A University student is on a mission to grab a men’s health problem literally ‘by the balls’ to tackle cancer after accepting a charity ambassadorial role.
Elliot Deeks is studying Physiotherapy at the University of Northampton. Outside of his studies he is set to swap healing hands to give important talks with young men about why they need to check themselves for testicular cancer.
Testicular cancer is one of the rarer types of cancers but, unusually, it affects younger men aged between 15 and 49 years old, with around 2,300 diagnoses in the UK each year.
It is also one of more treatable cancers, with a 98% survival rate of 5 years or more after diagnosis, especially if it is detected early enough. One of the best ways to ensure this is for men to self-check for any irregularities ‘down below’.
Helping to make sure this happens across Northampton is where Elliot come in, as he has recently been named the town’s Ambassador for Odd Balls Foundation a charity which raises awareness about testicular cancer.
Elliot picks up his story: “I first heard about Odd Balls Foundation about five years ago when my Dad took part in a charity bike ride for them from Twickenham to the Rugby camp in Barcelona. Odd Balls captured my attention because of their bright, whacky underwear range and their important mission.
“They were looking for a young man to represent them in the town and they contacted me on Instagram because they saw I studied at UON about this. I said yes straightaway because I wanted to support them with getting the word out to younger men across the town about why it’s important to check if there is something ‘odd with their balls’ they might need to get checked out.
“One of my tasks will be to visit schools and colleges across the town to talk to and with boys and young men about testicular cancer and how best to self-check on a regular basis. I’m not a doctor, so I make that clear from the outset and advise them about needing to see their GP if they spot something is amiss.
“It’s a difficult topic to tackle with males of any age as there is this stigma around men not talking about their health or seeking help, which is why I want to talk about it in schools to address that at an earlier point.
“The presentations are structured to help get the expected jokes or embarrassment out of the way quickly so we can focus on the serious side about how these guys can look after themselves.”
Elliot’s Ambassadorship will last until August next year and he has already pencilled in a few events to promote his message.
His duties will also help Elliot develop another skill vital to his curricular studies, as he explains: “I’m loving the degree, but I am always looking for opportunities to boost my public speaking and ‘soft’ skills. Of course, as a physiotherapist, communicating with patients about their health is a very personal thing, and I need to do that clearly and sensitively.
“If I can talk to young males in schools and colleges about an intimate issue like testicular health in a way they understand and that could help prevent them becoming seriously ill, that is the best experience to help me after I graduate.”