Hurst postman and twin brother inspire others by beating cancer

Twin brothers Stephen and Robert Mattinson
Twin brothers Stephen and Robert Mattinson

A man’s lifetime risk of developing cancer is set to reach one in two in the UK by 2027, according to Cancer Research UK but more people than ever are surviving the disease.

Postman Stephen Mattinson, who works for Royal Mail at the Hassocks sorting office and delivers post in Hurstpierpoint, knows how important research into cancer can be.

Stephen and his twin brother Robert (pictured together) have both been treated successfully for testicular cancer.

Robert was diagnosed about 15 years ago and Stephen four years later. Robert developed a painful lump, while Stephen’s symptoms developed more slowly.

Stephen said: “I became aware of a swelling and a tenderness in one of my testicles, together with a dull ache. I went to my GP and was treated through surgery and radiotherapy.”

Although Stephen works in a predominantly male environment, he has never been afraid to discuss his cancer with his Royal Mail colleagues.

He said: “Several have asked me what symptoms alerted me to the problem. I hope the fact that they now see a happy, healthy and cheerful colleague reassures them that it is perfectly possible to get over it and get on with normal life.”

The experience of cancer prompted Stephen and his twin brother to give up stressful careers for the great out-doors.

Stephen was a diplomat, who had postings in Africa and Ukraine, co-ordinating aid programmes.

Robert, a father to three boys, worked in the City in Financial Futures but gave that up to do what he really loves – farming.

Stephen, 58, said: “When you’ve had cancer, your priorities change. You discover what’s important in life for you. I don’t know if stress is related to cancer but in both our cases, the cancer coincided with times of high stress.

“Success stories like ours wouldn’t be possible without the work of Cancer Research UK so we want to encourage people to get behind the charity’s fundraising drive.”

Out of the millions the charity spent on research last year, scientists were able to use £1million on a project at the University of Sussex on understanding how cells repair damage to DNA – their genetic ‘instruction manual’. DNA damage is the root cause of cancer so understanding how cells recognise and repair it is vital to understanding how to beat the disease.

The twins, who are biologically identical, live in Steyning.