When faced with a cancer diagnosis, things can get really difficult; not only for the person with cancer, but also for their family and loved ones.
For men, it can be difficult to talk about their health and their feelings, which is why Jim Fraser and Guy Cassar started the Gloucester Prostate Cancer Support Group in 2008.
The group was supported by the Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia (PCFA) to get started, a partnership that continues today. The PCFA helped the group purchase equipment and fund training to teach members how to counsel others faced with a cancer diagnoses.
Since the beginning the meetings have been and continued to be held in the CWA rooms every fourth Thursday of the month from 6.30pm.
Member, Robert Sparke has been involved with the group since the early days, joining within the first couple of meetings.
Robert thought his journey with prostate and his first hand experience of watching his family and loved ones struggle with his diagnoses, might help others in a similar situation.
Unlike larger cities, where there are a range of specific cancer support groups, Gloucester has only one for men, so their doors are to any man with cancer and their partners.
Even if a family member or loved one wants to come along on their own, they are welcomed into the group, who focuses on offering emotional support to anyone on a cancer journey.
The meetings run for about a hour to an hour and a half, kicking off with the business bits, before opening the meeting up to anyone who wants to talk.
There is no pressure to speak and everything said in the room, stays in the room.
Sometimes people talk. Sometimes they listen. Sometimes they speak together with their partners.
The format is casual and the message is about offering a support network and access to information and services for each individuals needs.
Family members can even contact the group about their loved ones, and a member will reach out to see if they are open to coming to a meeting.
“Some people don’t like coming to meetings,” Robert explained. “So the support can be offered one on one.”
They are just there to help and listen; whatever is needed.
The group also has regular guest speakers at the meetings, with local paramedics, doctors and cancer nurses having attended in the past.
Another focus of the group, is to raise awareness for the younger men in the community and encourage them to get checked from 40 years and over.
The group also run a range of fundraisers throughout the year, as well as receiving donations from community groups and individuals who raise money. The funds are used to offer some financial support for men going through treatment who need a little bit of assistance.
September is Prostate Cancer month and for the past couple of years, the Gloucester group has organised for the clock tower in Memorial Park to be lit up in blue for the whole month.
The group will be holding its annual presentation night on Saturday September 29 with guest speakers, Ashley Beaton (North Coast V-Twins) and Jodie House (NSW Ambulance Service). The event starts at 6.30pm at the Gloucester Country Club.
For more information about the event or the group, contact president: Steve Pennicuik on 0427059717, treasurer Robert Sparke on 0410455304 or email email@example.com.
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