Monday, June 17, 2024

New face for cancer awareness group

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NEW FACE FOR AWARENESS GROUP: Tony Duddy will take over as chair of the Limestone Coast Prostate Cancer Awareness Group from Richard Harry. Picture: CHARLOTTE VARCOE

Charlotte Varcoe

THE Limestone Coast Prostate Cancer Awareness Group will have a new leader with Tony Duddy taking over as chair.

Previous chair, Richard Harry, has stepped down from the role after spending more than a decade on the board to allow new ideas and fresh faces take over.

Mr Duddy was first diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2017 after already having skin cancer, melanoma and polyps on the bowel.

After doing a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test, Mr Duddy said it came back as high.

“It was pretty shocking but I was working away for two weeks so when I came back I saw the specialist and considered having my prostate taken out,” Mr Duddy said.

“On the way back home I was involved in a fatal crash with a motorbike where the guy was killed so that got into my head as well.”

It was not until he was driving down Commercial Street and saw the awareness group out the front of Member for Barker Tony Pasin’s office as part of their annual barbeque fundraiser did he decide to attend a meeting.

“I came back and had a talk with Richard Harry and from there I started going to their meetings and learning about prostate cancer treatments,” he said.

“It was really good.”

After speaking with the group and a number of specialists in Melbourne, Mr Duddy made the decision not to receive treatment and instead monitor and live with his cancer diagnosis.

“I went to a specialist in Melbourne because that is where most of my family live now and there the specialist asked why I would do any treatment on the prostate if it was unnecessary,” he said.

“We now monitor it and see how it goes.”

Mr Duddy said after the initial diagnosis he wondered what would happen to him.

“The initial reading was high in October 2016 and it took me until about June the following year before I had the confirmed biopsy,” he said.

“I had cancer going through all that time and on top of the accident I was in a dark place for a while.”

He said initially the support group “scared” him due to the talk about treatments and what would happen but said it was great to have people who were experiencing the same thing.

“We would have a discussion amongst ourselves with the men and it was very open and allowed you to understand all the things which go on and that really helped,” Mr Duddy said.

“We always ask each other things and understand the mental and physical side of things, which has been a big help.”

While Mr Duddy does not present symptoms of his cancer, he said living with it has allowed him to realise he still had the opportunity to do things.

“I decided to take over from Richard when he wanted to step down as he had been doing this for a long time,” he said.

“I have been in management before and have some skills, I just could not take it on for a few years for a number of reasons.”

He said he knew Mr Harry wanted to step back and relax so now was a good time to give it a go.

Leading the group into the future, Mr Duddy said he hoped he could keep things going as they are now while also attracting younger people into the group.

“We are also going to look at going back to night meetings so it will be on the same week as our day meetings as one of our members is a shift worker so he can make either the day or night but ultimately this is about not losing the group,” Mr Duddy said.

“I really want to keep up the good work Richard has done and keep raising money and support people.

“One of the important things is the support we give each other and when we had the radiation consultant come and talk to the group, the stories that came out of people and how much support they had gotten from the group – it has been hard work.”

He said the group was not only for the men either, it also included their families.

“The women are involved too, the support group is a family thing,” Mr Duddy said.

“Men need to make sure they go and get tested because they cannot be there for their families if they are not here.”

The Limestone Coast Prostate Cancer Awareness Group meets every third Wednesday of the month at the Mount Gambier RSL at 2pm.

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