In 1996, Nurse and continence advisor Barbara McFadyen ran an advertisement in the local newspaper classifieds to seek support in establishing a support group in the area. She was responding to a need for men and their families who were negotiating their respective prostate cancer journeys. The response was forthcoming from a man who was undergoing his own prostate cancer journey and recognising the absolute lack of support in this area. This man was Robert Collard, a schoolmaster, who went on to lead the group for 15 years. In doing so, he earned a Max Gardner award in 2008 from the Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia, with whom the group that he was affiliated with was also the recipient of an M.B.E for his services.
Bob and his wife Olga with the help of Local Health District nurses and continence advisors, Lindy Lawler and Jacquie Swindells, made the group the success that it is today. In 2011, Bob was unable to continue so Tom Lyons assisted by John Daven took over the role and set up a management committee and continued to provide support for men and their families. Later, when Tom was unable to continue with his role, John took the reins and as of 2020 is the current president.
We made some minor changes to the format of each meeting which included an emphasis on our motto “Come and have a chat to someone who has been there.” This is a simple statement, but it is a very powerful one. This motto came from our desire for new members to be introduced to other older members so that a conversation is started and perpetuated.
“We are fortunate to have the services of at least one nurse at each of our monthly meetings to have one on one chats or to give advice to our members. Along with a nurse, we often have a guest speaker who might have a related condition or could speak about something completely different
We make time for an informal ‘how are you travelling’ conversation where anyone is welcome to give an update about their condition or to ask questions in an open and secure forum. Our group also has the support of our local Urologists who speak regularly to them along with other specialists that can help them with their condition.
Even though we haven’t been able to meet face to face since February at the Uniting Church Hall in Terrigal on Friday mornings, we have a newsletter that goes out weekly which is full of great information and funny stories to our members,” John says.
In recent years with the appointment of a specialist Prostate Cancer Nurse, Suzanne Sedevic at Gosford Cancer Centre, the group continues to provide essential support to men and their families as they negotiate the sometimes rocky and challenging post-treatment Prostate Cancer Path.
In addition to this John keeps a close association with Cancer Council Central Coast and the CCNSW ‘Cancer Connect’ team.