Help­ing men cope with can­cer

Whanganui Midweek - - Front Page - By PAUL BROOKS

Mem­bers of the Men’s Sup­port Group as­so­ci­ated with the Can­cer So­ci­ety want to help men who have been di­ag­nosed with prostate can­cer.

They’ve been there, they know the drill and they know where to go.

They and the Whanganui branch of the Can­cer So­ci­ety have pro­duced an in­for­ma­tion pam­phlet — “Tips from Guys who have been there: Go­ing Down the Prostate Can­cer Road”.

“A can­cer di­ag­no­sis is no longer a death sen­tence. Medicine and med­i­cal prac­ti­tion­ers to­day are well ahead of what they were 20 or 30 years ago,” says Lance Pat­ter­son of the sup­port group and pro­moter of the printed guide.

He says he came in late when the plan for the brochure was al­ready un­der way un­der the guid­ance of Judy McIn­tyre, health pro­moter and vol­un­teer co­or­di­na­tor at the Can­cer So­ci­ety. His name is among a list of lo­cal con­tacts: Brian, Roger, Lance and Ho­hepa.

It was Roger Whit­ing who ap­proached Judy and asked if there was any­thing they could do for men who have had a di­ag­no­sis of prostate can­cer to give them more sup­port and in­for­ma­tion about treat­ment and side ef­fects.

That con­ver­sa­tion led to a search for what in­for­ma­tion was avail­able.

“That led to a lot of meet­ings and in­volved a lot of peo­ple,” says Judy. “We had the Can­cer Psy­chol­ogy Ser­vice, the Whanganui Re­gional Health Net­work come along, Carol Rams­den, the physio from the hos­pi­tal, Erica Grif­fiths, other nurses from the on­col­ogy team and the Men’s Sup­port Group. We had men with prostate can­cer sit­ting around a ta­ble with health pro­fes­sion­als. It be­came clear that it’s a big is­sue, there’s a lot of in­for­ma­tion out there about prostate can­cer, but how do we get men to con­nect with the good in­for­ma­tion?”

A team was formed to de­velop a road map to help bring men to that in­for­ma­tion and sup­port in the Whanganui re­gion.

“We’ve de­vel­oped this re­source that we want to put out there and see what re­sponse we get from it,” says Judy.

As well as point­ing men in the right di­rec­tion, the re­source of­fers per­sonal as­sis­tance from men who have been there and who can trans­late the of­ten com­pli­cated lan­guage sur­round­ing a di­ag­no­sis.

“It had to be sim­pli­fied,” says Lance. He says he was lucky in that he has a sup­port­ive doc­tor who steered him through the process. “Plus I had my wife with me. She heard 99 per cent of the in­for­ma­tion; I heard about 10 per cent.”

That was when he got in­volved with the Men’s Sup­port Group.

“This [re­source] is a sim­ple way of go­ing through steps. It’s not scary.”

The brochure links to the Can­cer So­ci­ety where some­one can put men in touch with some­one from the sup­port group.

Lance com­pares can­cer to rust in your car — both can be treated.

Fi­nan­cial con­tri­bu­tions from the lo­cal Li­ons Club and the Men’s Sup­port Group have en­abled the first print run of the brochure.

The Men’s Sup­port Group can be con­tacted through the Can­cer So­ci­ety on 348 7402, if any­one would like to join or at­tend a meet­ing.

‘A can­cer di­ag­no­sis is no longer a death sen­tence. Medicine and med­i­cal prac­ti­tion­ers to­day are well ahead of what they were 20 or ago.’ 30 years

LANCE PAT­TER­SON

PIC­TURE / PAUL BROOKS

Lance Pat­ter­son with the guide to prostate can­cer.

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