THE mayor of Whitehaven, who has lost friends and family to cancer, has spoken of his own experience with the devastating illness - and has issued a call for people to speak up when something doesn't feel right.

Chris Hayes is also set to organise a fundraiser in aid of Cancer Research UK, a charity that is very close to his heart.

He explained that he had recently lost a relative and friends to cancer and had also recovered from cancer himself last year.

Mr Hayes has raised money for the charity before and will now be organising an event with some friends. For his birthday, he also set up a fundraiser on Facebook in aid of Cancer Research. 

Mr Hayes said: "I lost my nephew two years ago to cancer and he was only 41 years old and had two children. 

"There's so many cancers that can affect people and it's so difficult to find cures. 

"I was one of the lucky ones, I recovered, but a lot of people don't. But until we keep fighting this horrible disease many more people will sadly die.

"I've lost five good friends to cancer and that's why it means a lot to me and my family. 

"I do a lot with Cancer Research and pay monthly to their cause, but I've also done small events for them and I'll be doing one early on this year to raise awareness of the illness. 

"Many people ask why we can't find a cure for them, but it's like finding a needle in a haystack.

"I didn't realise but people can get cancer in any part of their body. 

"Myself and a team of guys who went through school and college together meet every six weeks. 

"Four of them have recovered from prostate cancer and the other two have suffered from other serious forms of cancer. 

"We'll be coming together to organise something soon and get people talking about this kind of illness. 

"I would encourage people to listen to their bodies. I was the type of person who never went to the doctors for years when I knew there was something wrong and I just kept putting it off. 

"I did a test and I was in the hospital a week and a half later. If I hadn't done that I wouldn't be here today."