Kenny Logan has just been given the all clear. It is days before the anniversary of his shock prostate cancer diagnosis and he is relieved to have some good news to report. “I’m very lucky,” says Logan, sitting in his local Buckinghamshire pub 48 hours after his latest prognosis.
The 50-year-old is here reflecting on what has been a rollercoaster year. As well as his cancer scare, it has included the tragic deaths of his good friends and former Scotland team-mates Doddie Weir and Tom Smith, and the calamitous collapse of his beloved Wasps. Still coming to terms with it all, he reveals a heart-to-heart that morning with BBC presenter wife Gabby has helped him keep a “positive mindset” amid what he later admits have been some “crap days”.
Coping with pain and heartache has become second nature for the couple: he lost his father and a cousin he considered a father figure and she her 15-year-old brother when they were both just coming out of their teens; he spent more than half his life in a secret struggle with dyslexia and she almost died giving birth to twins Reuben and Lois, now 17, who were conceived after years of IVF treatment.
Sharing all this publicly has also become routine for a husband and wife who have used their platform to raise awareness of, and money for, various issues and causes, which has included airing topics long considered taboo. Logan’s cancer journey saw this taken to its logical conclusion when they recorded an audio diary about it for an episode of his wife’s podcast, The MidPoint. It featured intimate and emotional conversations about their sex life – and their fears for its future – before and after they decided Logan’s prostate should be removed.
“Whether it be my dyslexia, my relationship, IVF, we’ve always been quite open,” says Logan. “So, I was quite happy to talk about erectile dysfunction and all these other things because I was like, ‘It is a symptom’.” An extremely common one from what Logan describes as a “very invasive” operation that left him “black and blue downstairs”.
“Six months on, I would say I’m physically 100 per cent, mentally 100 per cent, feel good,” he continues, now looking as fit and healthy as when he was tearing down the wing for Wasps and Scotland. “From a sexual point of view, it’s not consistent. As the surgeon said to me, this could take 18 months. Within a month, I was getting movement, where he says, ‘That’s amazing’. So it’s just not as consistent.” He adds with a laugh: “The beauty is you can take a tablet and it changes things.”
Since sharing his story, Logan says he has received “a lot” of messages from those telling him they went to get tested for prostate cancer, some of whom had been diagnosed and undergone treatment or surgery. Stressing the need for all men his age to get checked, he says: “If I can help one person, that’d be great. But I’ve probably helped a lot of people with the coverage it had.”
It is easy to see why Logan calls himself “very lucky” after his cancer scare when you consider the cruel fates suffered by his peers, Weir and Smith. Weir died in November six years after being diagnosed with motor neurone disease (MND). Smith passed away in April following a lengthy battle with colon cancer. Logan’s voice breaks with emotion as he remembers British & Irish Lions icon Smith, who he says “ignored some of the signs” of his illness and was “somebody who didn’t complain”. He adds: “Maybe he should’ve.”
Logan’s tribute to Weir is even more poignant. The hugely-popular former lock campaigned tirelessly before his death to raise millions to find an effective treatment for MND through his ‘My Name’5 Doddie Foundation’. Logan Sports Marketing, the company Logan set up at the end of his rugby career, has worked with the foundation from its outset. Logan says: “His resilience, his bravery, is nothing I can match. He was dealt the worst card in the world. And his bravery and his courage to battle it and take it head on, I think you saw the real Doddie, actually. We all knew when you played ‘Big Daft Doddie’ and you go, ‘Aye’. But you saw the real heart and the real courage of him when this happened. Because it shone even more.”
Amid all the personal grief and trauma last year came the collapse of Wasps, where Logan spent almost all his professional career. His time there was the most successful in the club’s history and included three Premiership titles and their first of two Heineken Cup triumphs. “Every scenario’s sad we’re talking about,” Logan says. “The Wasps scenario is sad. People have lost jobs. It shouldn’t have been in this situation.” A consortium has been formed to rescue the club of which Logan is a part. How involved is he? “Too involved,” he replies. “I was on the phone this morning, constantly speaking to people. Agents contacting us, players.”
With everything else going on in his life, surely this is the last thing he needs? “I couldn’t just let it go. And in these situations, people go, ‘Somebody will save it. Somebody will save it’. But there was not a queue of people trying to save it and we’ve still got a lot of work.”
Since being given provisional approval in December to join the Championship next season, Wasps’ new owners have said very little – even after being given a deadline of next Tuesday to meet conditions imposed on their application. “The reason we’ve been quiet is I’d be scared to promise things to people and then I let them down,” says Logan. The club’s move to the Midlands ended in disaster and Logan laments that they were unable to remain in Wycombe. He hints at a potential relocation but rules out a return to London, saying: “The beauty of Wasps is it can move around. I’d love it to be in Wycombe because it’s not far from where I live. But you’ve got to think of how do the rugby club survive? And that whole Midlands corridor’s interesting.” He also issues a rallying cry to those who share his love for the club. “People who have supported Wasps in the past, who can support them, need to come out and support them, either by feet or by sponsorship or by whatever.”
The reasons behind the collapse of Wasps, and Worcester Warriors, have been well-documented and Logan says it was obvious for 20 years that the elite game had been flirting with disaster. “Something needed to be done ages ago,” he says.
Logan is equally blunt about the latest major crisis to engulf rugby, the huge revolt against the ban on tackling above the waist at amateur level in England, which he warns will “ruin the game”. Proclaiming the sport “miles safer than when I played”, he says:
“When I played the game, you could pick somebody up and spear them into the ground. The referee would say, ‘Knock on’. When I played, you could jump up in the air and they could hit your legs and you could land on your head. The referee would say, ‘Play on’. If you were on the ground, they could kick the living daylights out of you, from your head to your toes, ‘Oh, you’ll not do that again’. He says he does not fear joining the scores of his peers suffering with dementia and other brain injuries – “I wouldn’t change what’s happened” – and has no qualms about his son, who was a flanker in the Wasps academy, following in his footsteps – “He’s hoping to get a professional contract”.
The teenager has big shoes to fill. As well as his success at club level, Logan won 70 caps and scored 220 points for his country. He was also part of the last Scotland team to win what is now the Six Nations, the final Five Nations Championship back in 1999. He admits he would never have thought that would herald a drought spanning 24 years. “You would expect us to have some more success,” he says.
But he points out they have since managed a feat he did not in his entire career – one often regarded as all that matters to many Scots – beating England. Doing so has become so routine that their victory in Saturday’s thrilling Six Nations opener between the sides did not register as a shock, despite bringing back-to-back Scotland wins at Twickenham for the first time in the 152-year history of Test rugby’s oldest rivalry.
It was a few days after attending last year’s fixture at Murrayfield, which saw Scotland retain the Calcutta Cup for the first time for almost 40 years, that Logan received his cancer diagnosis.
With Saturday’s win coming after he was given the all clear, he will be hoping that his luck finally has turned.
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