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Cancer survivor spreads the word
At 67 years of age, married with two children and seven grandchildren, Dan Willis has been clear of prostate cancer for seven years and loves being an active ‘Pop’.
“We live on 20 acres with my daughter and her kids and Pop’s always out cutting firewood or doing a pre-season clean up,” says Dan.
During every activity, however, he has to factor in the one major inconvenience left behind by his radical prostatectomy – the surgical removal of all or part of the prostate: “I have to take a lot more pitstops!
“In 2006, I had an inkling something wasn’t right. I was up and down during the night and getting odd pains. My PSA [prostate-specific antigen] level was rising and I insisted on blood tests. I had a very large aggressive prostate cancer and I was lucky to find a surgeon who would remove it. That was followed by radiation treatment.”
Dan’s experience of diagnosis, surgery and regular health monitoring has motivated him to set up a number of cancer support groups. Andrology Australia supports and promotes male reproductive health, and Dan has joined with them to present a broad range of health information to groups of men.
“My goal is to get into all brigades in District 16,” he says. “I’ve most recently done at talk at Apex in Beaufort about high blood pressure, cholesterol, Type 2 diabetes and heart conditions. Having one of these conditions and an enlarged prostate can be a key indicator of prostate cancer. You should have seen some of the jaws drop when they realised there are links between obesity, drinking, smoking and some of these serious health conditions.
“I want to get awareness into brigades that men need to start looking after themselves. There is quality of life after prostate surgery. Early detection means better outcomes when it comes to any side effects. A visit to the doctor could save your life so have a health check every year.”
Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in Australian men and is the second most common cause of cancer deaths in men. One in nine men in Australia will develop prostate cancer in their lifetime.
For more information, contact the Cancer Council Victoria.
Donate to Dan's Movember campaign.