Five years ago Brian Nagorcka, on a visit to his doctor, was reminded that it had been a while since he had had a prostate cancer blood test.
It wasn't something that had been on the Horsham man's radar.
By his own admission he had been one of those "it won't happen to me" guys - which he says too many men are.
"I was healthy. I never went to the doctor. I went to this doctor for another reason and he said I hadn't had a PSA test for a while," Mr Nagorcka said
The results of the test - for the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) - came back "up a bit, but not in the danger zone". It lead to radiation and hormone treatment for prostate cancer.
Mr Nagorcka is now an advocate for early blood testing for prostate cancer for men over the age of 50 - a regime that has seen numbers drop off during the COVID-19 lockdown.
While the fear of catching COVID-19 may have stopped many men from getting to the doctors in the past four months, it was time to head back in for tests, he said.
"There might have been fear about the virus, but there were things you could do right to make sure your risk was a lot less," Mr Nagorcka said. "Leaving the PSA test could be a worse risk."
Prostate cancer care in the Wimmera received an added boost this week with the announcement that a Horsham-based specialist nurse for prostate care had been approved in a region-first.
At present, a nurse based out of Ballarat also covers the Wimmera area, but people often have to travel out of the area for care.
Mr Nagorcka said the new position would have a great benefit for patients in the region.
"When you are first diagnosed it's just a bombshell," he said. "You don't know where to go, there was nowhere to go over that I knew off, just somebody I knew who had had treatment."
The Wimmera Prostate Cancer Support Group, of which he is group leader, was founded to help provide support for people facing that news.
It has continued remotely - via phone calls and newsletters - during the COVID-19 lockdown but the group is hoping to resume face-to-face meetings in August.
The arrival of a new specialist nurse based in Horsham will provide an additional vital link in on-the-ground care in the Wimmera, from treatment to advice pointing people in the right direction of help.
The federally-funded Prostate Cancer Nurses Program started three years and has paid for 29 prostate nurses across Australia, with the Wimmera Cancer Centre one of five organisations to benefit from the second round of funding for the program.
More than 16,000 Australian men are expected to be diagnosed with prostate cancer this year
Wimmera Cancer Centre manager Carmel O'Kane said the inclusion of a prostate cancer nurse to her team would mean Wimmera men could visit a specialist nurse in Horsham without travelling to Ballarat or Melbourne.
"Our region has a similar ratio to the rest of the state when it comes to prostate cancer numbers but unfortunately we have a poorer survival rate than the rest of Victoria," Ms O'Kane said.
"This is due mainly to a lack of awareness around prostate cancer and the amount of travel required to access services. A prostate cancer nurse on the team will be able to better educate the community and bring more awareness."
Ms O'Kane said the nurse would also help look after the consequences of treatment and lifestyle changes that men have to make.
"A big advantage is that they can help men make the decision about the best treatment options for each individual case," she said.
Member for Mallee, Dr Anne Webster, in announcing the funding, said prostate cancer was estimated to be the second most common cause of cancer deaths in Australian men in 2020.
"So many Australian men and their families have had their lives turned upside down by prostate cancer, so I'm very pleased they will have the support of these specialised nurses now and into the future," she said.
"It's fantastic that our region will benefit, with a prostate cancer nurse funded at Wimmera Cancer Centre.
"This funding sends a message to men with prostate cancer that they do not have toface this terrible disease alone."
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