Photo: Terry Patrick, Group co-founder Peter Gibbs, David Ault, Dr Owen Graham, Guest speakers Debra Garroun and Dr Hodo Haxhimolla and co-founder Terry Butler.
The Yass Prostate Cancer Support Group are encouraging men over 40 to get their annual prostate cancer test.
Hosted by co-founders Peter Gibbs and Terry Butler, the group launched in April this year and meets the second Monday of every month at the Yass Soldiers Club. Peter Gibbs said there are more and more men of various ages being diagnosed with prostate cancer.
“We’re finding we’re getting a consistent number of people coming along to the group,” he said.
According to the Cancer Council in Australia, one in six men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer by the age of 85.
Peter and Terry want to spread the message amongst men and remind their family members to ensure the men in their lives get tested.
There are a number of tests to detect prostate cancer with the most common being the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test, which measures the level of PSA in your blood.
Research from the Daffodil Centre in June has revealed that many men who survive prostate cancer do not receive the right interventions or support to help deal with dis- tressing, persistent side-effects of treatment, and are suffering in silence.
“Men are very reluctant to get tested,” Peter said. “One of the aims of the group is that we’re there to support people who have this problem.”
Both Peter and Terry are prostate cancer survivors. The former had an operation last year to treat his cancer and said he was supported by Terry and other people in the early days of his diagnosis.
“I found that very helpful,” he said. “Now Terry and I are there to support people who need help.”
“We’re there to support people and to be a point of contact and an area where the men can sit and talk freely about all sorts of issues without fear or favour.”
“What’s said in the room stays in the room and some quite interesting subjects come up at times.”
Support groups like these are particularly important given the known link between prostate cancer and an increased risk of suicide.
A 2018 Cancer Council NSW study looked at rates of suicide among prostate cancer survivors over a period of ten years. It found that men in NSW who had prostate cancer were at a 70% increased risk of suicide compared to the state’s general male population.
Peter said they all tend to have some issues after going into remission and that many still experience some bladder incontinence for a period after their surgery.
“These are some of the issues that you have to put up with and quite frankly, talk about,” he said.
The group, sponsored by Yass Rotary, are planning to promote testing for prostate cancer at a golf day in the new year and a mobile Rotary Men’s Health Van to visit the town in March.
“We’re going to use that as an opportunity to promote testing.”
The theme will be ‘GET TESTED’.
Prostate cancer is manageable, and your urologist will discuss the options available to you.
By Brianna O’Rourke