“Opening up and talking about things really helps.” Ron shares his prostate cancer journey

Icon Writer / 18 Sep, 2023

Boonah resident, Ron believes variety is the spice of life.

The 83-year-old has taken on many challenges throughout his colourful life, starting his career as a confectioner. He was since worked as a tailor, in an abattoir, owned a boat shop, managed a bed and breakfast, run a caravan park and worked in his son’s pub. He was also tried his hand working in real estate. That’s while also raising three children.

I’m a bit of a gypsy. I’ve moved 27 times to different locations around New South Wales and Queensland. I built a house in Boonah 16 years ago and it’s the longest I’ve ever lived in one location,” laughs Ron.

But Ron’s greatest challenge came in 2021 when he was diagnosed with prostate cancer.

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“Leading up to (my diagnosis) I had worked at my son’s pub on my own during the day and then did some work on a truck afterwards. The next morning, I woke up at 2am and I had wet the bed and my left leg wouldn’t work. A friend picked me up that day and took me to the doctor. I had never been sick in my life. My doctor did some tests and referred me to a urologist. The urologist did some tests that picked up I had prostate cancer. From there, I was referred to an oncologist,” says Ron.

When it was discovered Ron’s cancer has spread to his lymph nodes, his medical team decided the best course of action was to undergo 19 weeks of chemotherapy, followed by a course of radiation therapy.

“I got the shock of my life when they told me I had prostate cancer. But it shouldn’t have come as a shock. My father was 76 years old when he died of prostate cancer. I should have been having regular tests done to check my PSA levels. I regret not doing so. I felt good, so I didn’t think anything was wrong with my health. The last thing I was thinking about was prostate cancer. It wasn’t a pleasant experience at all,” says Ron.

Ron underwent radiation therapy at Icon Cancer Centre Springfield under the care of Dr Minoja Palliyaguru.

He says it was a happy day when he got to ring the bell on his final day of treatment.

“They have a painting on the wall with thumbprints of people who have finished their treatment. I made sure I put my thumbprint at the top of the tree. They also put the disco lights on and played “For all the girls I’ve loved before,” in the (bunker) while I was having my final treatment. That was great. The staff at Icon were easy to talk to and very friendly,” says Ron.

Ron credits his wife, Ruby for helping him through his cancer journey.

If I didn’t have Ruby, I wouldn’t be here. She went to all of my appointments and sat beside me during my treatments. I’m very grateful to be alive and have an amazing wife by my side. I’ve changed my outlook on life since I was diagnosed. I know how amazing Ruby is and that she always needs to come first. Since I finished treatment, we’ve been on three cruises and had an absolute ball. We’re enjoying life more,” says Ron.

Ron also credits a small group of men he met in the Icon Springfield waiting room for helping him throughout his cancer treatment and beyond. Ron and the men have formed a cancer support network. They meet every three months to talk and socialise.

“I love the little group we have. We talk, we have fun. Everyone is different. If I don’t hear from them, I ring them. It’s made me open up and talk more about what I went through with the cancer. We compare notes and talk about the issues we’re having so we can help each other through it. It’s good to compare notes. I think we all appreciate having each other people to talk to. Cancer is a tough thing to go through. Opening up and talking about things really helps.”

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