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

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