Ian Fisk has been a volunteer with Cancer Council’s Cancer Connect Program for more than 15 years. He shares a bit about his experience, and what being a volunteer means to him.
I was 57 when a routine examination by my GP suggested prostate cancer. He had performed a digital rectal examination and noticed an irregularity. Although I had no symptoms for cancer, a follow-up examination by a urologist confirmed a cause for concern. I had battled a melanoma 12 years previously and although my fight was successful, I was daunted at the thought of another challenge.
A biopsy was done and a few days later the news was official—I had prostate cancer. After consultations with a number of specialists, I decided to take part in a relatively new treatment at the time called ‘iodine seed brachytherapy’. The treatment worked, and 18 years later, I am now helping other men facing a similar journey.
I became involved in cancer support groups not long after my diagnosis, and for me, it’s become a huge part of my life. The Cancer Connect Program connects people going through treatment with those who have come out the other side. It’s unique really and I think that the ability for people to speak to someone who has been there provides a sense of reassurance. When I call people and tell them that I was diagnosed in 2002 and am still here today, I can hear their relief—speaking to me helps them to realise that people can survive a diagnosis, and that there is hope out there.
My conversations with the men I speak to vary—we often speak about their diagnosis and I share a bit about my story. While I can’t offer medical advice, I can help them answer some of the more common questions, give them tips (like taking someone with you to your appointments) and generally provide support.
I often tell men that after they are diagnosed, they should find out as much information as possible. Prostate cancer is one of those cancers where there are a lot of different treatment options out there, and often you can decide which treatment you want to pursue.
I share a bit about my experience and tell them to speak to as many specialists as possible, get a second and third opinion and generally just find out as much information as you can. Support groups are really handy—the Prostate Cancer Foundation runs some great ones—and of course, tell them to continue to utlise resources like Cancer Connect. There is so much support out there, all you have to do is ask.
I look back to when I was first diagnosed, and the fear was overwhelming—I thought I was going to die. I know how scary it can be, so being able to share my story with others through Cancer Connect and provide comfort and relief is a wonderful thing.
Cancer Council’s free, confidential Cancer Connect service provides an opportunity for you to talk with someone who has ‘walked in your shoes’ and really understands what it’s like to deal with cancer.
Through Cancer Connect, you are linked by phone to a trained volunteer with a similar cancer experience, who can listen to your concerns and provide support. Carers can also talk to other carers about the changes and challenges they are facing.
For more information or to register your interest call Cancer Council 13 11 20 or visit our website here.