Members of the Men's Support Group associated with the Cancer Society want to help men who have been diagnosed with prostate cancer.
They've been there, they know the drill and they know where to go.
They and the Whanganui branch of the Cancer Society have produced an information pamphlet — Tips from Guys who have been there: Going Down the Prostate Cancer Road.
"A cancer diagnosis is no longer a death sentence. Medicine and medical practitioners today are well ahead of what they were 20 or 30 years ago," says Lance Patterson of the support group and promoter of the printed guide.
He says he came in late when the plan for the brochure was already under way under the guidance of Judy McIntyre, health promoter and volunteer co-ordinator at the Cancer Society. His name is among a list of local contacts: Brian, Roger, Lance and Hohepa.
It was Roger Whiting who approached Judy and asked if there was anything they could do for men who have had a diagnosis of prostate cancer to give them more support and information about treatment and side effects.
That conversation led to a search for what information was available.
"That led to a lot of meetings and involved a lot of people," says Judy. "We had the Cancer Psychology Service, the Whanganui Regional Health Network come along, Carol Ramsden, the physio from the hospital, Erica Griffiths, other nurses from the oncology team and the Men's Support Group. We had men with prostate cancer sitting around a table with health professionals. It became clear that it's a big issue, there's a lot of information out there about prostate cancer, but how do we get men to connect with the good information?"
A team was formed to develop a road map to help bring men to that information and support in the Whanganui region.
"We've developed this resource that we want to put out there and see what response we get from it," says Judy.
As well as pointing men in the right direction, the resource offers personal assistance from men who have been there and who can translate the often complicated language surrounding a diagnosis.
"It had to be simplified," says Lance. He says he was lucky in that he has a supportive doctor who steered him through the process. "Plus I had my wife with me. She heard 99 per cent of the information; I heard about 10 per cent."
That was when he got involved with the Men's Support Group.
"This [resource] is a simple way of going through steps. It's not scary."
The brochure links to the Cancer Society where someone can put men in touch with someone from the support group.
Lance compares cancer to rust in your car — both can be treated.
Financial contributions from the local Lions Club and the Men's Support Group have enabled the first print run of the brochure.
The Men's Support Group can be contacted through the Cancer Society on 348 7402, if anyone would like to join or attend a meeting.