Awareness is key this Movember
Published at: 15 Nov 2019
NOVEMBER SEES MEN’S HEALTH ISSUES IN THE SPOTLIGHT WITH MOVEMBER TAKING PLACE THROUGHOUT THE ENTIRE MONTH. THE LEADING CHARITY CHANGING THE FACE OF MEN’S HEALTH FOCUSES ON FOUR KEY AREAS – PROSTATE CANCER, TESTICULAR CANCER, POOR MENTAL HEALTH AND PHYSICAL INACTIVITY.
Goulburn Valley Health took the opportunity to host a Men’s Health Breakfast this week, raising much needed funds for Movember and drawing awareness to key men’s health issues.
Held to coincide with Movember, Kyabram’s Michael Jones shared his prostate cancer journey and Shepparton’s Amy Georgopoulos told the heartbreaking story of her late husband James Georgopoulos.
Event MC and GV Health Hospital Admission Risk Program Care Coordinator of Emergency Department Terence Tuohey welcomed guests.
Mr Jones encouraged those in attendance to take the very simple PSA test which measures the amount of prostate-specific antigen in your blood.
He said it was the Biggest Ever Blokes Lunch in Echuca that had prompted him to take the test and the results revealed Mr Jones’ life was about to change.
“My journey started three years ago,” he said.
After hearing a doctor recommend the test during the lunch, Mr Jones went along to his GP to get checked out.
Soon, he discovered his PSA levels were too high, and they continued to climb.
“You feel like your world is falling apart,” he said.
After receiving nine months of chemotherapy as well as taking a hormone replacement therapy, Mr Jones said his PSA levels were back down to zero.
“Unfortunately, for me, it’s going to be an ongoing journey which is probably the hardest part to get your head around,” he said.
He had one strong message for guests – to get themselves checked out.
“It’s that bloody simple,” he said.
“Don’t think it won’t happen to you because it can.”
Mr Jones said his journey would have been far more difficult had it not been for the fantastic support from the nurses at the Peter Copulos Cancer & Wellness Centre.
He particularly thanked GV Health prostate specialist nurse Sonia Strachan.
“Without them you couldn’t go through this journey at all,” he said.
“You’d just go into shutdown mode.
“They’re just amazing.”
Listen to your body
There was one key message taken from Amy Georgopoulos’ talk at the Men’s Health Breakfast.
The Shepparton mother shared the story of her late husband James who passed away from bowel cancer in 2016.
She said James had been feeling exhausted and not like his usual self.
It was when he had an unbearable stitch-like pain that they sought medical advice.
James was just 24 years old when he was diagnosed with bowel cancer.
Mrs Georgopoulos said the young family was daunted by the treatment process and decided to have treatment in Melbourne.
She explained this resulted in a real lack of consistent care from nurses which made the journey incredibly diffi cult for them.
Mrs Georgopoulos said James’ treatment had been ongoing for some time when they discovered he had a BRAF gene mutation which meant the cancer could increase and spread much more easily.
“This turned our entire world upside down,” she said.
Travelling as far as Germany to seek out new treatments, Mrs Georgopoulos said they were not in the country long before James was rushed home.
He sadly passed away from the cancer and Mrs Georgopoulos has since made a tireless effort to raise awareness of the deadliness of bowel cancer.
She and her family were also key drivers in fundraising to employ a bowel cancer specialist nurse at GV Health which has now been filled by Katie Emanuelli since 2017.
Mrs Georgopoulos encouraged those at the breakfast to listen to their body, a message reiterated by GV Health chief executive Matt Sharp.
“There really is only one person who can get you off to the doctor,” he said.
“If something isn’t normal then go and get it checked out.”
Event MC Terence Tuohey also spoke about the importance of maintaining good mental health.
He encouraged men to seek help if they were feeling unwell mentally.
“Sometimes we think we’re 10 ft tall and bulletproof,” he said.
“We live in a good time now where there’s a lot of help out there.”
He also said it was important to look out for each other.
“If you do see signs of mates struggling, just ask how they’re going.”
Mr Sharp wrapped up the event by highlighting that GV Health was committed to ensuring positive health and wellbeing for its staff.
“Mental health… is as important as it’s ever been,” he said.