“Receiving a prostate cancer diagnosis and going through the challenges of treatment can be a devastating time in any man’s life and have a lasting impact into the future. The importance of support from men with a shared experience of prostate cancer cannot be underestimated.”
– A/Prof Michael Penniment
Four mates connect to cope with prostate cancer
Getting through a prostate cancer journey together
For the 89,703 men living with prostate cancer in Australia, a prostate cancer diagnosis can be very challenging – with one in five men with prostate cancer experiencing long-term anxiety and depression.
This Men’s Health Month, Icon Cancer Centre Windsor Gardens patients Raymond, Graham, Rex and Robert are sharing the positive impact of support throughout treatment and how they got through their prostate cancer journey together.
73-year-old Hope Valley local Raymond Yates was first diagnosed with prostate cancer in November 2020, after a blood test revealed that his PSA levels had skyrocketed. He says the experience was made easier after being referred to Icon Cancer Centre Windsor Gardens for radiation therapy treatment, only a seven-minute drive from home.
“It was a bit numbing, anything to do with cancer is always a worry, but I knew what to expect as I’d had radiation therapy treatment before for skin cancer. The team at Icon Windsor Gardens were fantastic, I can’t say enough about them,” Raymond said.
During the quiet moments throughout his treatment, Raymond passed the time by making conversation with fellow prostate cancer patients who were also receiving radiation therapy in the hope of helping people stay positive during this difficult experience. As time passed, friendships grew – with Raymond now counting prostate cancer patient Graham Hier as a close friend.
“If you can be positive, it makes a lot of difference. Graham and I didn’t want to sit around and say nothing, so we got talking and turns out he barracked for the opposite team which became a bit of a jibe between us both. We incorporated the other men and got them smiling too. There are a lot of men worse off or feeling down and out, if you can make them smile all the better!”
For Graham, who was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2004, being told his prostate cancer had returned and he would need to receive radiation therapy treatment for the second time was a different experience to the first – this time shared with men going through the same journey.
“I began treatment at Icon knowing what to expect. Raymond and myself, being like-minded outgoing blokes, initiated conversation with other patients to lighten the atmosphere of the waiting room. The friendship between us took most of the tedium out of daily attendance for treatment. We had varying schedules which crossed occasionally and allowed time for friendly banter and to compare experiences,” Graham said.
Fellow prostate cancer patients Rex Creaser and Robert Alley also remember the time spent waiting for treatment with each other fondly.
“Talking with everyone about what they did when they were younger helped my treatment go by a bit quicker and took my mind off what was going on,” Robert said.
“Generally, people don’t talk. I think it does help. It relaxed everyone and we had a few laughs. Since Graham had gone through radiation therapy before, he put us at ease,” Rex said.
For Raymond, hearing about Graham’s past experience with radiation therapy for prostate cancer made a big difference in understanding the side effects to expect from treatment.
“Although Graham’s experience was a bit different, he went through the same kind of problems as me. It absolutely helped me to have someone to talk to who could relate to what I was going through,” Raymond said.
With the men now having finished radiation therapy treatment and reflecting on their time together, one message is clear from all – the importance of focusing on the lighter side of life during the darkest of times.
Associate Professor Michael Penniment, Radiation Oncologist at Icon Cancer Centre Windsor Gardens, says it is this positive mindset and social support that helps men with prostate cancer stay well during treatment and beyond.
If you’re struggling during your cancer treatment, there are many support services available to help alongside your compassionate care team and personal support network. It’s important to remember that you’re not alone, and speaking to people who know what you are going through can be extremely helpful.
Become a patient
Find out how to become a patient at Icon Cancer Centre, or request more information from your nearest centre.
Icon brings together some of Australia’s most experienced medical oncologists, radiation oncologists and haematologists.
Learn more about prostate cancer in Australia, including signs and symptoms, stages and frequently asked questions.
There are many different treatment options for prostate cancer. Find out more about common treatments for prostate cancer here.