My name is Douglas Edward Harper. I was not born in a cross fire hurricane; I was actually born in Barkingside on 15 January 1962.
The first few decades of my life, I was like anyone else; I had regrets. I still regret that around 1974, I was chosen to play football against my schools first team after impressing during ‘games’. Mr Robertson put me on the left wing and I scored two goals in a 2-1 win. The second goal was a lob (I had no idea what a lob was, I closed my eyes and shot) with my George Best boots on. Mr Robertson picked me up and ran me around the pitch. He thought that he had found the Walthamstow answer to the man whose boots I was wearing!
Two days later, I was informed that I was to play for the school team on Saturday. In those days (for whatever reason) I was shy. I told Mr R that I was not well and could not make the game. The next week, I was hauled in front of the year and told that I would never be picked for the school again. It was only years later that I realised that I was as good with my left foot as I was with my right. In another educational system, I would have been made aware of this and used it for the powers of good over evil! I was also an amazing runner at the age of 15 and beat everyone at the school, but again, due to a lack of encouragement this passed by as well.
Fast forward to 2011… Forty nine years old and the father to four girls from a previous marriage (Kirsty, Nancy, Molly and Emily), and a one year old son (Spencer) with my muse, Sarah Jane. Unemployed since early 2009 after 31 years in the printing industry (which is dead), and now desperately trying to reinvent myself in a different industry.
A life-long ambition was realised when I had a song that I had written and performed released on a compilation CD in the United States of America. The band that I am in, Steve White & The Protest Family, goes from strength to strength. Ok, we ain’t going to storm up the charts or appear on The X-Factor, but what we do I am immensely proud of.
Just an average good guy and then I found out that I was different. I became one of only 300 men a year in the UK to have breast cancer!
I’m an activist and campaigner, I often campaign about things close to my heart (no pun intended) that seem to be overlooked in the mainstream. Some may call me ‘a pain the arse’, but out of all of my campaigns, this is the most important one.
I had no idea before being diagnosed that men could get breast cancer. My partner had no idea that men could get breast cancer. My friends, my family, seemingly no one seemed to be aware that men could get breast cancer. And yet here I stand, well sit actually, with a cancerous lump in my chest, and on the verge of soon losing my man nipple. I am writing this blog in the hope that more people will be aware of the possibility of getting breast cancer, and to encourage you all to check your bits.