'I do these talks is to scare blokes into going to their GP'
TOOWOOMBA-BASED prostate cancer specialist nurse Jo Hiscock was part of a group that helped to take the Movember message to staff at Acland New Hope mine recently.
"Movember is all about reducing the number of men who are dying too soon from treatable diseases, so it's fantastic that we're able to come out here and give the men some education about prostate cancer and the importance of monitoring their health," Ms Hiscock said.
"If we can encourage the men to keep a check on themselves and monitor their PSA (prostate specific antigen) level through a yearly blood test then that's a big step towards them maintaining their health for a lot longer."
The Toowoomba prostate cancer support group, in conjunction with workplace wellness program provider Live Well Australia, organised to have a special guest speaker talk to staff at Acland New Hope mine. Live Well Australia program manager Bella Reynolds said the staff at Acland appreciated hearing from people with personal experience of prostate cancer.
"We were joined by prostate cancer survivor Mark Forbes, who came to share his story, and it was also great to have Jo on hand to answer any medical questions the men might have," Ms Reynolds said.
"Mark's an ex-builder, and still working in the building industry, so he identifies with working men, and just as importantly they identify with him, it's far more effective to have someone who's willing to share their own experience."
At 42, Mr Forbes was one of the youngest people to be diagnosed with prostate cancer in Queensland. He said he hoped his story would force men to look at their own health from a new perspective.
"The reason I do these talks is to scare blokes into going to their GP to organise a simple blood test, because prostate cancer is a silent killer," he said.
"I was only 42, I had no symptoms to show any problems with my prostate, but I'd had an upset stomach for quite a while.
"Like most men I wasn't keen on going to the doctor but thankfully my wife kept pestering me to go and when I did the doctor ordered a blood test and also ticked the PSA test on the form.
"It was lucky he did because, while the upset stomach turned out to be nothing to do with my prostate, the PSA test came back showing a higher-than-normal level, and that continued to increase rapidly over the next few months, so in my case if I hadn't had that first check-up, there's no doubt that I wouldn't be here today.
"I would encourage all blokes, once they turn 40, to go to their GP, have a general check-up, and make sure they ask to have a blood test to check their prostate.
"Not having a simple check could mean the difference between detecting something early, getting treatment and surviving, or not being around to live out the rest of your life, or worse, leaving your family without a husband and father."
To contact the Movember foundation for fundraising details call 1300GROW MO (1300476966).
Prostate cancer specialist nurse Jo Hiscock is based two days a week at Toowoomba Hospital, two days a week at St Andrew's Toowoomba Hospital, and spends one day a week travelling to locations in a catchment area that includes Toowoomba, Kingaroy, Cunnamulla, Charleville, Quilpie and Taroom.