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After noticing he was going to the toilet more often than usual, then 64-year-old, Malcolm received a life-changing prostate cancer diagnosis. What followed next were emotional ups and downs that led Malcolm to volunteering to support others through their own cancer experiences.

In 2006, Malcolm noticed he was getting up numerous times during the night to go to the toilet. He had been getting regular prostate checks for years so when he noticed the change, he went straight to the GP to get it checked out.

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer diagnosed in South Australian men with 90 per cent of people diagnosed over the age of 55. Treatment for prostate cancer is most effective when cancer is found at an early stage, so men are encouraged to see a GP when they notice prostate cancer symptoms like blood in their urine or semen, even if it’s just once.

Malcolm was told that his prostate had changed shape, and he was sent straight to the urologist for examination and a surgery. Shortly after the surgery, Malcolm was diagnosed with moderate to high-grade prostate cancer.

Despite some fatigue caused by 36 treatments of radiation, the prostate cancer treatment worked well and physically he was feeling good. However, emotionally Malcolm was going through a very tough time.

“I was given the all-clear in 2008, but soon after I finished my treatment I was hit with depression. It was dreadful. It was dreadful for me, and it was dreadful for Judy [my wife] too,” Malcolm said.

“I was on strong anti-depressants for some time after that. Now after all these years, I’m still on a minimal dose of anti-depressant and that just keeps things stable for me.”

Continued feelings of sadness, having trouble getting up in the morning or having lost motivation to do things that previously gave you pleasure, can all be signs of depression and is quite common among people who have had cancer.

During this time, Malcolm really leaned on Cancer Council’s nurse counselling service for support. Whenever he was feeling down or just needed someone to talk to, he would contact the nurse counsellor for a chat.

“The support she gave me through those times when I had severe depression and I had one terrifying panic attack, was amazing and I decided from that experience that when I retired, I would volunteer with the Cancer Council,” Malcolm said.

For over 11 years, Malcolm has been volunteering with Cancer Council’s Cancer Connect Program providing telephone peer support to men going through a prostate cancer diagnosis.

Malcolm says that peer support for people impacted by cancer is critical, having seen the benefit firsthand through the people he has connected with over the years.

“There’s a lot of mental health stuff that gets picked up in this because a cancer diagnosis can bring on a lot of anxiety,” Malcolm said.

“One of the biggest things we do is give people reassurance and help them to feel comfortable with themselves and comfortable with their journey.”

“I carry a little fridge magnet with the 13 11 20 number on it in my pocket when I’m in the hospital volunteering. I encourage people to talk about their diagnosis and talk about their treatment to develop a network of care around them.”

“We all need to feel loved, cared for and understood and we gain so much from getting support from someone who has travelled that journey but also has the skills to help.”

If you think you may be depressed or feel that your emotions are affecting your day-to-day life, talk to your GP. Counselling or medication—even for a short time—may help and some people can get a Medicare rebate for sessions with a psychologist.

Cancer Council SA offers a free counselling service to South Australians and their loved ones impacted by cancer. For more information or to organise an appointment, call Cancer Council on 13 11 20.

For information about coping with depression and anxiety, call Beyond Blue on 1300 22 4636 or visit For 24-hour crisis support, call Lifeline 13 11 14 or visit

Learn more about prostate cancer, the symptoms and when to see your doctor here.

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