15 July 2021
Men newly diagnosed with prostate cancer in the ACT will now have mates they can turn to for support, thanks to a new program by Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia.
Launched this week, the MatesCONNECT program connects newly diagnosed men with trained volunteers who have been through the disease in an effort to provide more local support services.
PCFA CEO, Professor Jeff Dunn AO, said the service will provide a vital network of support for men impacted by prostate cancer in the ACT.
“More than 3,300 men in the ACT are living with prostate cancer and an average of 260 new cases are diagnosed each year,” Prof Dunn said.
“MatesCONNECT will ensure they receive the type of support that can only be offered by those who understand what living with a diagnosis of prostate cancer is like.
“Men can get practical advice on surgery and treatment, and the side effects of treatment, such as incontinence, erectile dysfunction, and coping with hormone therapy.
“About one in five men with prostate cancer will experience long-term anxiety and depression. Of great concern, men with prostate cancer also face a 70 per cent increased risk of suicide compared to the general population.
“MatesCONNECT will provide vital support to ensure these men do not suffer alone.”
ACT MatesCONNECT volunteer and long-term PCFA support group member David Newman said he would be just a phone call away to lend a hand to men impacted by the disease.
“I was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2016 at age 56 and I felt very alone, so when I heard about the success of the MatesCONNECT program in other states I could not wait to get involved as a support volunteer when it was ready to be rolled out in the ACT,” Mr Newman said.
“I want men impacted by prostate cancer to know that they are not alone and I can offer a sympathetic and empathetic ear as only a mate who has been down the same road can.
“The beauty of this program is that it will enable men who are reluctant to speak face to face – or who would prefer to remain anonymous – to seek the support they need.
“This is an informal way for men to reach out and talk to a mate about what to expect and to receive practical and supportive insight into living with prostate cancer.”
Prof Dunn said the MatesCONNECT program responds to evidence that men who have a lived experience of prostate cancer can be a source of great strength and support for those newly impacted by the disease.
“Those who understand what it’s like to live through a diagnosis are well-placed to offer emotional and informational support to other men, and provide solidarity throughout survivorship, when many men face ongoing side-effects from their treatment,” Prof Dunn said.
MatesCONNECT is supported by the ACT Government under the ACT Health Promotion Grants Program.
For more information about Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia and MatesCONNECT, phone 1800 22 00 99 or visit pcfa.org.au.
PCFA media contact: Laura McKoy | M. 0435 094 788