Bridget Hill (right) has started in the role and wants everyone to know she’s here to provide specialist support to help both local men with prostate cancer, and their families. She’s already taking referrals.
Auspiced by SWH, the PCFA-funded position sees Bridget located in Warrnambool’s South West Regional Cancer Centre as part of SWH’s Cancer Services team and PCFA’s Specialist Nursing Service. She’ll work with local health care teams and the community to improve outcomes for men impacted by the disease.
Australia has one of the highest rates of prostate cancer in the world. One in every six Australian men is likely to be diagnosed with prostate cancer by the time they’re 85. Men with a family history have double the risk of being diagnosed, and men in regional and rural areas face a 24 percent higher risk of death. The most common cause of cancer in Australian men, each year prostate cancer takes the lives of almost 3,150 men while another 16,700 men become newly-diagnosed.
PCFA CEO Professor Jeff Dunn AO says Bridget’s role will benefit hundreds of men who live in south western Victoria. ‘About one in five men with prostate cancer experience long-term anxiety and depression and many will struggle to cope with the challenges of diagnosis and treatment. Specialist nurses play a critical role in providing guidance, care and support,’ he explains, adding ‘By 2040, about 372,000 men will be living with or beyond prostate cancer in Australia, representing a 68 percent increase from 220,000 today and the greatest number of men or women diagnosed with any single cancer.’
From the point of diagnosis, Bridget will offer expert education and information about treatment plans, referrals to services both in the hospital and community, and provide an ongoing point of contact and support for men and families. ‘There’s a big need for early detection, education and awareness in our region. The overall five-year survival rate is 95 percent but in this region it’s much lower than the national average. Here it’s only around 71–80 percent,’ she explains.
SWH Cancer Services nurse unit manager Andrea Janes (left) is thrilled Bridget’s joined the team. Based in the South West Regional Cancer Centre, she shares space with two other compassionate cancer specialist nurses, McGrath Foundation breast cancer nurse Rebecca Hay and Cancer Link nurse Sharna Purcell.
‘Good support and connection to information and services is incredibly important in a diagnosis of prostate cancer. Bridget’s role will vastly improve the support available to local men and families impacted by the disease, giving men much greater confidence they can navigate the challenges of prostate cancer with all the support they need,’ Andrea says.
Photo courtesy of The Standard and photographer Chris Doheny.