By Casey Neill
A Dandenong North man is turning his prostate cancer battle into an opportunity to support others.
Jim Powell and his wife Jan set up the South Eastern Prostate Cancer Support Group (SEPCSG) in February.
Dandenong RSL donates a space for SEPCSG to meet at 7pm on the third Wednesday of each month.
“It’s there to support people, and it’s basically to have somewhere to come and talk about it,” he said.
Jim’s prostate cancer journey started with a routine blood test in 2013. His prostate specific antigen (PSA) level was high – an indicator for the disease.
“This is a silent killer,” he said.
“You have no indication.
“A lot of men die with it and don’t even realise that’s what they’ve got.
“I was a bit stunned.”
He was sent to specialist Dennis King at Cabrini Hospital, who confirmed the cancer diagnosis and performed laparoscopic surgery.
“I went onto hormone treatment not long after having the surgery,” he said.
But Jan said another blood test showed his PSA was on the way back up.
“That’s when he had to have radiation,” she said.
“Now he’s having chemo because it’s come back.”
Jim is receiving chemotherapy every 22 days, and is due to finish his treatment in June.
“We don’t know if this is going to work or not, but we’re pretty positive,” he said.
“I’m not sitting around moping I don’t think.
“You’ve got to be positive. Life is very delicate.
“You really start to appreciate life.”
Jim attended a prostate cancer support group session in Ringwood alongside more than 30 other men and wives.
“It was the best night I’ve ever had in a group,” he said.
“They go around the room and ask all the guys how they’re going. Then they turn to the wife and say ‘how’s he going?’.
“There was a guy there who was going for his operation the next week.
“They asked him ‘how are you feeling, Dan?’ and he said ‘I am absolutely scared’.
“We all went over to him.
“The biggest thing that I got out of that from those guys was you have to keep this occupied.
“This is where you get the doubt. This is where the trouble starts.”
Jim immediately decided to start his own group, inspired by his own experience and the support his son Jeremy found while he was battling leukaemia at age 30.
“He went into intensive care. We almost lost him. He has now celebrated 10 years this past December,” he said.
The Powells have delivered SEPCSG leaflets at hospitals and other services in the form of letters addressed “Dear Friend”.
The letter offers guests help to cope with the emotional and psychological effects of cancer, reduce feelings of isolation, and improve well-being and hope.
Call 0477 913 005 or email SEPCSG@hotmail.com for more information or to get involved.