By Garry Howe
Denis Green and his two sons have moved beyond exchanging birthday presents these days.
But this year will be an exception.
Denis has just gone through a battle with prostate cancer and, as a gift for his 70th birthday, he has asked the two boys to provide copies of their PSA tests.
They, like many middle aged men, have been reluctant to be tested for the disease, which strikes 18,000 men in Australia each year and kills 3500 of them.
Denis, convenor of the Dandenong-based South Eastern Prostate Cancer Support Group, was diagnosed at 68 and his younger brother received the same bad news when only 56.
It should not have come as a great surprise, given their father had prostate cancer and their mother breast cancer.
“Family history is very important when it comes to prostate cancer,” Denis explained. “The experts say that you should be checked from 50, or from 40 if you have a family history of the disease.”
Hence the birthday request from his sons.
“There’s still a reluctance in men to address and talk about their health,” Denis said. “There’s a tendency to put it off, like my boys have, and dismiss it as an older man’s disease.”
Denis joined a prostate cancer support group around Ringwood when he was disagnosed and attended the local chapter when moving to Narre Warren last year.
He now heads it up as convenor and wants to get the word out to prostate cancer sufferers, their loved ones and anyone who may have a question or two about the disease that help is at hand.
The group meets on the third Wednesday of the month (February to November) from 7pm to 8.30pm at the Dandenong RSL in Clow Street
“It’s about sharing experiences and supporting each other,” Denis said. “We try to inform people who want to know about it and help and support those who have it.”
Three out of the monthly meetings have a guest speaker and the other is used as a group discussion.
Anyone wanting information about the group can contact Denis on 0459 609 619 or email firstname.lastname@example.org