The Yass Prostate Cancer Support Group was officially launched last Wednesday night at a Men’s Health Night at the Yass Soldiers Club.

The guest speakers on the night were Dr Hodo Haxhimolla, a Urological surgeon from National Capital Private Hospital and Debra Garroun from Melbourne, representing the Prostate Cancer Foundation.

The program is sponsored by the Rotary Club of Yass, with Wednesday’s event also supported by the Yass Soldiers Club who provided the food free of charge.

All the funds raised on the night will go towards the future of the Yass Prostate Cancer Support Group, with co-founders Peter Gibbs and Terry Butler pleased the group was finally here and available to the people of Yass.

“We had one of these meetings about three years ago, and someone said, why don’t we have a support group,” he said.

Not Alone- Prostate Cancer Support group launches in Yass. Photo credit: Megan Cassidy

As someone who was previously treated for prostate cancer, the support network is something Peter wishes was available to him at the time. Instead, he found a lot of comfort in the support offered by his friend and fellow organiser of the new support group, Terry Butler.

“I was diagnosed late last year just before Christmas, and when someone tells you you’ve got cancer, it just blacks your mind out.”

“You can’t really imagine it; it’s weird.”

“Having someone like Terry [Butler] there to talk to me about what he went through was really important,” he said.

Whilst the Prostate Cancer Foundation does provide support groups, the face-to-face interaction offered by this group is in demand amongst those affected by prostate cancer.

“They [Prostate Cancer Foundation] provide a lot of support for people, a lot of online forums, and they’re there for people, but some people don’t like that; they’d prefer to sit down and have a beer or a cup of tea and just chat to each other.”

“It’s basically just to get a group together, who you can talk to about your worries or just sit and have a chat,” he said.

Not-Alone: Support-Group co-founder Peter Gibbs, Dr Graham Owen, Dr Hodo Haxhimolla and cofounder Terry-Butler. Photo credit: Megan Cassidy.

As for obligation to the group upon joining, Peter wanted to reiterate that there was none other than being respectful of one another.

“We thought we’d meet on the second Monday of every month, and if you turn up, you turn up; if you don’t, you don’t,” he said.

Peter thinks the group will just be another example of the people of Yass looking after each other, which is one of the major reasons he has stayed in Yass for such a long time.

“It’s a very caring town, where people look after each other.”

“We came here for 12 months, 42 and a half years ago, and there’s a lot of people who have done the same too,” he said.

The nights will be open to partners, family members, or anyone with concerns relating to prostate cancer, with Peter anticipating that, in some cases, they may be the ones to gain more from the discussion at the support groups.

“Sometimes the partners will come along, and the affected person won’t come along, and the partner comes to find out how they can better handle this,” he said.

Whilst prostate cancer is what will unite the group, mental health is the focus, with the aim of providing a support system for those struggling to deal with their diagnosis.

“It helps if you talk about anything you’ve got a problem with.”

“Talking about it and finding out you’re not alone, and you’re not the only fish and pond.”

“It’s really interesting to listen to what other people are going through now and what they went through at the time,” he said.

The next meeting will be on Monday 10th of May, keep a lookout on social media and in our newspaper for further details at a closer date.

Max O’Driscoll