The history behind the Moreton Bay Regional Prostate Cancer Support Group
The Queensland Chapter Council of the Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia (PCFA) wanted to establish a support group in the Northern environs of Brisbane thus providing assistance for men wanting information about prostate cancer but had difficulty attending Brisbane, Beerwah or Sunshine Coast meetings. Daryl Hyland and Ian Smith of the Queensland Chapter Council initiated discussions with Queensland Health in 2012 and Ian made contact with Dr Keith McNeil, the CEO of the Metro North Health Service. Arrangements were made to meet Caboolture and Redcliffe Hospital Managers in March 2012.
Although Caboolture and North Lakes were considered to be better centrally located for the Moreton Bay Region, the best opportunity was at Redcliffe Hospital where there was not only a Urology Department and suitable facilities for meetings but also willing support. In April 2012, Daryl Hyland and Ian Smith met with Dr Meyer, the Senior Urologist at Redcliffe Hospital and Nurse Practitioner Yvette Sullivan. They were extremely enthusiastic since they had tried to arrange something with the PCFA Head Office in Sydney but had received no response.
At this point, Fred Travis (Queensland Chapter Council Secretary) was called in to help while Yvette Sullivan organised the facilities and refreshments. Ian had discussions with the local newspapers and the Moreton Bay Regional Council Mayor, Alan Sutherland. Advertisements were placed in local newspapers and on local radio and two awareness meetings were held in August and September of 2012 with guidance from Daryl Hyland.
The awareness meetings were successful with the help of notices to patients by Dr Meyer and Yvette Sullivan and the first group meeting was held in October 2012.
Fred Travis became the Convener of the Group and was ably assisted by Ian Smith until Fred managed to get assistance from Group members. Some help appeared quite quickly from Helen Garfield (daughter of Trevor Brown, one of the prostate cancer sufferers). Helen took on the role of mailing secretary for members who did not have email capability.
At the time. the Moreton Bay Regional Council Mayor was extremely supportive and provided some help to enable the group to become sustainable in our formulative years.
The group was originally designated as the Redcliffe Support Group but it became apparent that, for it to be recognised throughout the Moreton Bay Council Region, a name change was needed. The change has been approved by the Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia (PCFA) with whom we are affiliated.
Attendees became members of the group and are eligible to receive the prostate cancer newsletters and other information from PCFA and the Cancer Council Queensland. There was no membership fee required although a gold coin donation can be offered to offset meeting costs.
In September 2018, a meeting of members decided that a move to North Lakes would provide a better opportunity for men and partners living at the further outreaches of the Moreton Bay Region to access the group’s meetings. The first meeting at the North Lakes Health Precinct was held in November 2018.
In June 2019, we donated a wheelchair to the Redcliffe Hospital as a token of the group’s appreciation of the hospital’s support during our formative years. The Honourable Steven Miles, Queensland Minister for Health received the presentation of the wheelchair accompanied by several key personnel from the hospital.
As of September 2021, the group is now managed by two leaders, a Treasurer, a Membership Officer, Marketing Officer, a Social Event Leader, 3 Male Induction officers, two Ladies Induction Officer, a mailing officer for “Snail Mail” members, an Expos & Shows Support Officer, a Speaker Acquisition Officer and a shirt support officer This management committee now has monthly meetings to resolve current and planning issues.
Due to the 2020 COVID pandemic, the Health Precinct was converted into a clinical services facility in March 2020 and the prostate support group needed to transfer to a different venue. An acceptable alternative venue took some time to resolve since many venues had timing and parking rstrictions or were already fully booked. Also, the pandemic and its self distancing requirements affected room size requirements. While we did not have any meetings after March, we have managed to score facilities at the new YMCA building at Mango Hill (Mango Hill Community Centre). As a result we held our first meeting there on 13th October 2020.
While the Group has concentrated on providing talks from speakers associated with the medical discipline (Urologists, Radiologists, Physiotherapists, Dieticians, Exercise Therapists, etc) it has moved to include topical talks associated with everyday issues and aging issues. Some social activities are also conducted with a view to suppressing the depressive nature of prostate cancer treatments & journeys and to increase camaraderie amongst members. The group has had resounding success in helping men to contact other members who have experience with the same treatment journey.
However, members have an obligation not to provide specific medical advice. Medical issues can be resolved with medical practitioners and the newly appointed prostate cancer specialist nurses at Royal Brisbane and Redcliffe Hospitals
There is ample opportunity for members to ‘bend the ear’ of the specialists and to meet and discuss prostate cancer journeys with other men and their partners.
Men and their partners are welcomed and have the opportunity to talk to the specialist lecturers as well as men who are travelling the same path with their treatments.
The group has a social activities committee that organises morning teas, lunches, picnics and excursions as part of our role to allay any depression or anxieties from which members may be experiencing. At these functions we tend to have a great natter about all sorts of issues but new members are always welcome to seek advice at these meetings.
We meet at the Mango Hill Community Centre (The Y) Linear Drive, Mango Hill (off Halpine Drive) at 6pm on the 2nd THURSDAY of each month (except January). Members are invited to turn up early to avail themselves of the refreshments and meetings usually end about 8pm but member discussions usually continue for another 30 minutes either amongst themselves or with the speaker.
A monthly newsletter is produced to advise members of meeting topics plus health and topical information as well as jokes and cartoons. This is distributed to all members including “snail-mail” members who do not have computers.
We are affiliated with the Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia who provide liability insurance and reimbursement of some small administrative costs. They also provide some information brochures. However, we are supported by the Urology Department of Redcliffe Hospital. tthe YMCA and the Moreton Bay Regional Council, who assisted us to set up in our initial years.
The group’s operating funds come from a few Bunnings barbecues and our annual Redcliffe Jetty to Jetty Fun Runs. These funds enable us to develop our own brochures, purchase needed equipment, provide mailing facilities, provide the meeting and picnic refreshments. We are also able to provide donations to appropriate groups who have provided a speaker as well as research organisations. Expenditure of current funds may be needed in the future as we move to further market our activities to the wider public, procure needed equipment and will help allay costs for the new venue at The Y in Mango Hill