More support for prostate cancer patients
Published at: 07 Feb 2020
ANOTHER PROSTATE CANCER SPECIALIST NURSE HAS JOINED THE TEAM AT GOULBURN VALLEY HEALTH, FUNDED THROUGH SHEPPARTON’S BIGGEST EVER BLOKES LUNCH. THE ADDITIONAL NURSE WILL MEAN PATIENTS ARE SUPPORTED EVERY SINGLE DAY OF THE WORKING WEEK.
Since beginning the prostate cancer specialist nurse role in 2014, Sonia Strachan has supported patients diagnosed with prostate cancer.
Funded through the Shepparton Biggest Ever Blokes Lunch, Ms Strachan said the funding meant that there were two days each fortnight when she was absent.
This week, however, Goulburn Valley Health in conjunction with the Biggest Ever Blokes Lunch announced the role would be expanded to cover an extra three days each fortnight with Nicole Lewis taking up the extra hours.
Ms Lewis said she was excited to take up the role after working at The Peter Copulos Cancer & Wellness Centre for the past eight years as a nurse.
“Nicole filled in for me when I went on long-service leave in 2017 so she’s not completely foreign to the role,” GV Health prostate cancer specialist nurse Sonia Strachan said.
Having also worked with urology patients, Ms Lewis said she had a great rapport with specialists at the healthcare service.
“So we’re 10 steps ahead,” Ms Strachan said.
Ms Lewis said she had also been attending the Biggest Ever Blokes Lunch in Shepparton for the past four years.
The brainchild of the late Chris McPherson, the lunch is held in August each year, and fully funds Ms Strachan’s role.
Shepparton Biggest Blokes Lunch committee chair Shane O’Sullivan said the appointment of Ms Lewis would also mean Ms Strachan’s annual leave was covered.
“It was Chris’ idea to fund the nurse,” he said.
“We’ve been so successful with everyone that attends the lunches.”
He said the ongoing success of the event had enabled them to fund additional hours for the prostate cancer specialist nurse role.
For Mr O’Sullivan, having a support nurse would have been something that would have changed his own personal journey.
Diagnosed with prostate cancer 10 years ago, Mr O’Sullivan said he had to travel to Melbourne to receive support.
He said having a specialist nurse in Shepparton at the time would have been invaluable.
He also acknowledged what the lunch had done to raise awareness of men’s health issues, meaning more people were getting regular health checks.
The Biggest Blokes Lunch committee, along with GV Health, had seen an increase in demand for Ms Strachan’s role since its conception.
“It means we’ll now have someone in the role every day,” Ms Strachan said.
Ms Strachan said she could not put into words what it meant to have the community’s support in funding the roles.
“I feel proud when I go out of the region and tell people how my role is funded and how generous the community is and continues to be,” she said.
“The local community is really passionate about it too.”
Both Ms Strachan and Ms Lewis said they had already seen the benefit in having two people in the role this week when one client was only available on Thursday, when Ms Strachan was away.
Ms Lewis said she was able to support the patient in Ms Strachan’s absence.
They said the role was not only important for men who were first diagnosed but also a big part of it included survivorship of patients.
“These men can be living with prostate cancer for many years,” Ms Strachan said.
Ms Strachan thanked the Shepparton Biggest Ever Blokes Lunch committee, GV Health and Peter Copulos for the generous partnership and their support.
SHEPPARTON’S BIGGEST EVER BLOKES LUNCH
Shepparton’s Biggest Ever Blokes Lunch began in 2009 by the late Chris McPherson after he was diagnosed with prostate cancer.
Chris passed away in December 2015 but has left a significant legacy, with many BEBL events now operating throughout Victoria.
The committee, with a strong focus on raising local awareness for men’s health issues, are extremely proud the money raised from the event now funds two Prostate Cancer Specialist Nurses as well as a Bowel Cancer Support Nurse position at GV Health in Shepparton.
As a result, the Shepparton region has been able to access better quality treatment and patient care leading to improved outcomes for patients.
For more information about the lunch visit www.sheppblokeslunch.com.au