Hillcrest man Ken Madden is five weeks on from having life-saving prostate cancer surgery.
“I’ve just had my prostate out to be quite honest, five weeks today,” he said.
Honesty is exactly what we need right now on the issue of prostate cancer awareness, he said.
“Look, you’ve gotta keep on top of it and get checked, and don’t put it to the side and say, ‘it won’t happen to me’,” he said.
The 71-year-old was shocked into action after receiving some blunt advice from his urologist in early January.
“When I was told that I need to have something done, he said ‘you’ve got three options: you can do nothing, you can have it done surgically, or you can go through the radium treatment’,” said Mr Madden.
“I sort of said ‘oh, I don’t know if I’ll bother with anything’.
“He looked at me and said ‘well, how long do you want to be here for?
“So that made my mind up.”
Pathology tests revealed Mr Madden’s cancer was confined to his prostate and had not spread into the rest of his body, which meant he had a better chance of success in surgery.
Every year, 1 in 7 men are affected by prostate cancer and 3,500 men die, according to the Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia.
Mr Madden was one of the fortunate ones to have his cancer detected early, and to go on and have a successful recovery.
“I’ve been very, very fortunate because the operation was very, very successful,” he said.
Detection is only possible when men take the initiative to get tested.
“The bottom line is to encourage blokes to go and get tested and to do what’s been asked of them because it’s life and death,” said Mr Madden.
The common approach to testing is for men to get their PSA levels checked, but this is only part of the testing process.
“That doesn’t mean you just get your PSA done,” he said.
“Get yourself a urologist and allow them to guide you through the treatment path because they are the ones who deal with it.”
The normal range of PSA differs between men, which is why it is crucial to consult a urologist for further evaluation.
“Just Because your PSA is okay doesn’t mean to say you’re in the clear, you have to get some history to know what’s normal for each man,” Mr Madden said.
Men’s Health Week aims to get more men tested
Mr Madden’s warning comes in time for the Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia’s Men’s Health Week from June 14 to 20.
The foundation is running a campaign during the week centred on getting people to do 45 sit-ups per day to support the 45 Australian men diagnosed with prostate cancer each day.
Fundraising from the campaign will be invested into research projects and better treatments.
Regents Park local Ken Houliston is the foundation’s newly appointed Community Networks Manager.
“There’s well over 1,000 people participating in the Sit-Up 45,” said Mr Houliston.
He hopes the campaign will inspire more men to get tested.
“It’s not something that men talk about,” he said.
“They joke about it, but they don’t really want to talk about it.
“Once a guy is 50, he ought to get his PSA tested regularly, and a lot of the guys who are 40-odd ought to get it done periodically as well.”
The foundation’s next major project is to create a mentor program in Brisbane’s south.
The program is designed to partner men going through prostate cancer with others who have experienced it themselves, and who can walk them through the illness.
Mr Houliston expects it to be running by year’s end.
“I would be hopeful that by the end of the year we’d have one rolling nicely, but there’s nothing stopping guys looking up Ipswich or somewhere else,” he said.
The foundation also started a tele-nursing service in March that gives men access to specialist nurses who deal with the cancer.
For a full list of support groups go to https://www.prostate.org.au/support/list-of-support-groups/qld-support-groups/
If you need help understanding prostate cancer, call the foundation’s specialist nurse line on 1800 22 00 99.