Kiwi men are under seige. Prostate cancer remains the most common form of cancer for New Zealand men and accounts for 3000 diagnoses and 600 deaths annually – one in 10 Kiwi men will develop prostate cancer in their lifetime and too many are dying by leaving their check-ups until it is too late.
Cambridge local Graeme Montgomery, 67 years old, was diagnosed with prostate cancer in October 2015 and underwent surgery in December 2015, an experience which has motivated him to start a support group in his community.
“While on holiday at the beach with my family following surgery I had the idea to figure out a way that men in my area could get together,” says Graeme. “Having people to share your experiences with is so important.”
Up to 10 local men, and occasssionally wives or partners as well, come together to catch up over a beer or a meal every two months thanks to Graeme’s initiatives.
Aside from a sense of cammeraderie and providing an understanding environment to open up, Graeme says the biggest benefit is the opportunity to talk to guys who have been through the diagnosis and treatment process.
“Being able to share how you are going, where you are at and get feedback on treatment options undertaken by other guys, is hugely important and we find that blokes who might be a bit shy really open up.”
Having lost his own father to prostate cancer aged 69, Graeme had an annual ‘WOF’ check for the past 10 years, a critical action for men who have in the past had males in their family diagnosed with prostate cancer.
Graeme Woodside, Prostate Cancer Foundation CEO, says too many men are dying when a simple test can save lives.
“Enough is enough. In 2016 it’s time for Kiwi men to take more responsibility for their prostate health, starting from the time they turn 40, especially if there is family history of this disease and a simple blood test is all it takes to start the testing process.”
Blue September is having a shake-up this year and challenging New Zealanders to face their fears –there are a million experiences more terrifying than getting a prostate check up.
From funding groundbreaking research to hosting support groups nationwide, every dollar counts this Blue September. Go to www.faceyourfear.org.nz to find out how you can face your fear, see some famous Kiwis facing their fears and donate to the Prostate Cancer Foundation.