13 October 2017
Ballarat local and retired detective from Victoria Police, Richard Stevens, is sharing his prostate cancer story in the hope that it may inspire country men to take action in support of their own health
Friday, 13 October 2017: Richard has leant his voice to a series of videos highlighting the unique challenges faced by country men when it comes to prostate cancer. The videos have been produced by Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia (PCFA) with the support of New Holland Agriculture, who are committed to achieving better prostate cancer outcomes for countrymen.
Men living in regional and rural Australia are up to 21% more likely to die of prostate cancer than their metropolitan counterparts.
Associate Professor Anthony Lowe, Chief Executive Officer of PCFA says that it is time for men, particularly those living in regional areas like Ballarat, to take the issue of prostate cancer more seriously. "Many people are surprised to learn that prostate cancer kills more Australian men than breast cancer kills Australian women. That's not to draw a comparison between two but just to point out to men that prostate cancer is that serious a health issue," said Anthony.
"PCFA recommends that men over the age of 50, or over the age of 40 if they have a family history of prostate cancer, speak to their doctor about being tested for prostate cancer at their next health check."
Unfortunately for Richard, in spite of active conversations with his doctor about prostate cancer, his own cancer had advanced by the time of his diagnosis. However, after the initial shock of his terminal diagnosis, Richard said that he made a conscious decision to approach his cancer journey in a positive way. "I thought to myself: hang on. Feeling sorry for yourself is not the way to deal with this. Be positive and go for it. You can get on with your life and make sure whatever is left of your life, you’re going to damn-well enjoy," said Richard
At the time of his diagnosis, Richard lived in Raglan and had to travel the 70km to Ballarat five days a week for eight weeks to pursue a gruelling radiation treatment regime; all in the hope of buying some more time.
Many men also report that they feel very alone on their cancer journey and this is a special problem for men in regional and rural Australia. Fortunately, the Ballarat Regional Integrated Cancer Centre (BRICC) is also home to one of PCFA's Prostate Cancer Specialist Nurses.
"I really was grateful for the dedicated nursing support. When you are diagnosed with prostate cancer, there are so many thoughts flying through your head. Having someone there to walk you through your diagnosis and the treatment options available to you helps to put your mind at ease," said Richard.
PCFA's goal is that every man diagnosed will have access to dedicated nursing support, as Richard has on his prostate cancer journey. Sadly, two out of three men diagnosed across the country are currently going without the life-changing support of an expert nurse.