Busy Blue September for survivor
It took the death of his brother-in-law and a chance meeting to convince Bill Guthrie to get checked for prostate cancer. He’s glad he did.
The Eastbourne man now knows the value of regular checks and the importance of catching cancer early.
Guthrie said the death of his brother-in-law, Dick Smith, from prostate cancer was a real wakeup call and he began to think about his own health after talking with a representative from the Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia at Smith’s funeral in Brisbane in 2008.
The representative convinced him to start having regular check-ups.
‘‘I knew it was a big killer of men, but I didn’t think you had to worry about it until you had symptoms.
‘‘It certainly wasn’t at the forefront of my thinking. ‘‘That meeting quite possibly saved my life’’ His first check in 2008 came up clear, but a year later the news from his doctor was less positive. He was diagnosed with the early stages of prostate cancer, aged 50.
‘‘It was a shock, as it always is, but I knew it was early and it was treatable. That gave me some comfort.’’
After undergoing brachytherapy, an internal radiation treatment, he has been clear ever since.
Guthrie is now a volunteer with the Prostate
‘‘I knew it was a big killer of men, but I didn't think you had to worry about it until you had symptoms.’’
Cancer Foundation of New Zealand and spends time rasing prostate cancer awareness.
He co-ordinates a Hutt Valley support group and also attends the monthly Prostate Awareness is a Lifesaver group in Wellington.
Guthrie said he was lucky to have caught his cancer early and was on a mission to ensure other men did not become complacent about their health.
‘‘I had no reason to think I might have [prostate cancer]. There’s no history of it in my family that I know of, I’m not overweight, I don’t smoke and I’m reasonably fit. I had no symptoms at all.’’
There were many reasons men did not get tested with many simply not knowing to ask for the test, believing that their doctor would be proactive for them. Others were put off by the digital examination. He urged men to be proactive and not wait until they saw symptoms as by then, he said, it could be too late.
One in eight Kiwi men will develop prostate cancer in their lifetime, with one man diagnosed every three hours and one or more dying every day.
At the moment only two in five men are asking their doctors for the potentially life saving test.
Blue September is the Prostate Cancer Foundation’s major awareness drive and it takes place throughout the month.
For more information about prostate cancer prevention and support prostate.org.nz