Mildura Weekly : Friday August 22 Vol 8 No 42
NEWS 07 FRIDAY, AUGUST 22, 2014 MILDURA WEEKLY.COM.AU PROSTATE cancer is the most diag- nosed form of cancer in the country, with more than 20,000 men diag- nosed each year. In Sunraysia, there were 60 men diagnosed with prostate cancer last year alone, and the numbers are in- creasing due to a combination of the district’s growing and ageing popula- tion and more men getting tested for the disease. These statistics, along with the complexities of the condition and the district’s relative isolation, have seen Sunraysia selected as one of just 14 new areas in the country to receive a dedicated Prostate Cancer Specialist nurse, in the form of Craig Millard. The Prostate Cancer Specialist Nursing Service is an existing pro- gram of the Prostate Cancer Founda- tio of Australia, established initially through funding from the Movember Foundation. Recent Federal funding has al- lowed an expansion of the service. Craig has 25 years experience as a nurse, the majority spent in Sunray- sia working in aboriginal health, ac- cident and emergency, mental health and most recently chronic kidney disease. It was in his last posting that he was recognised as the Mildura Base Hospital’s annual Nurse of the Year. Craig said his primary role as a prostate cancer nurse will be to sup- port men diagnosed with prostate cancer, as well as their families and friends. The role will include providing them with up-to-date information as well as ensuring that men and their families are aware of the best and latest treatments for their con- dition. It will also include helping men through the often traumatic recovery process. He said many men struggled not only with the shock of being diagnosed with cancer, but the side effects post-treatment that are spe- cific to prostate cancer, such as in- continence and impotence. “It’s overwhelming being told you’ve got cancer, and then you have people providing all sorts of information in the weeks before they start treatment and men can have trouble absorbing all of that information,” Craig said. “And then when they have the treatment it’s traumatic enough, but then they come home and all of a sudden they’re starting to see the side effects and they think there’s something wrong with them. Social withdrawal is common “They often hide, go out into the back shed, stop socialising, get depressed, isolate themselves, and this is common. “This is one of the main rea- sons dedicated prostate cancer nurses are being created, to get to these guys early and say, look you may have these problems, come and see me if you have them. It’s perfectly normal. A lot of guys have these symptoms and we can get around them. There are treatments for the side effects. “The most important thing is if I can engage with these guys at diagnosis, then I can give them this information. Tell them it’s normal, and if the side effects do happen, they now have someone to come and link them in with the best pos- sible services.” Craig said while many cancer services are now available in Mil- dura - there’s a medical oncologist based in the district, supported by visiting specialists - many proce- dures still need to be performed outside the district in Adelaide, Melbourne and Bendigo. He said this time away, some- times up to eight weeks at a time in the case of radiotherapy treat- ment, can provide added stress for both the patient and his family and friends, which is another area a dedicated prostate cancer special- ist nurse can provide support. While Craig’s predominant role is to help people already di- agnosed with prostate cancer, he is also available to answer general questions about prostate cancer, but stressed men should consult their GPs in terms of diagnosis or any symptoms. He said that despite the preva- lence of the disease, prostate can- cer is beatable, highlighting the fact that five years after diagnosis, 90 percent of people with prostate cancer are still alive. Craig said that along with his own services, Sunraysia Cancer Resources also features a prostate cancer support group to help men battling the disease. Craig will be based at the Mil- dura Base Hospital and can be contacted on 5022 3333, however he can also visit patients in their homes when needed. Help at hand for prostate cancer patients • GOOD SUPPORTER: Mildura’s first dedicated Prostate Cancer Nurse, Craig Millard. SHOP CONFIDENCE Ends 23/08/14. Harvey Norman® stores are operated by independent franchisees. 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