FOR Gippsland men navigating the fear and uncertainty of a prostate cancer diagnosis and the myriad of treatment choices, a new service is providing the specialised support they need.
Prostate cancer specialist nurse John Curran is meeting the "unmet" needs of men with prostate cancer, from providing information and education, to support, counselling, community awareness and coordination of services.
Mr Curran says the free service is helping to put the focus back on patients, giving men the information they want and need, when they are ready to receive it.
More than 250 men from Gippsland are diagnosed with prostate cancer every year.
"For every man diagnosed with prostate cancer, their journey will be different, their relationships will be different and the level of interaction they want with their specialist will be different," Mr Curran said.
"We know the diagnosis, so we know the answer to 'what's the matter with you', but the key question as I see it is, 'what matters to you', and 'how much do you want to know'."
Prostate cancer specialist nurses like Mr Curran work within a framework of standards overseen by the Prostate Cancer Foundation Australia and based on nationally recognised best practice models, liaising with doctors and others involved in patient care, and offering support in all areas of prostate cancer care.
Understandably, a prostate cancer diagnosis can be a stressful time for men and their significant other, and at first overwhelming.
"All of a sudden their life's changed," Mr Curran said.
"They might be seeing a lot of people involved in their cancer care, but they can still fall through the cracks.
"The prostate cancer nurse, like me, is there to give the information, focus on areas that matter to each individual patient, and if they need more, I make sure they have the support they need or want."
Following his training in Ireland in the 1970s, Mr Curran has nursed in several countries, and has a solid background in many aspects of health care.
Four years ago he took on the role of nurse unit manager of District Nursing at Central Gippsland Health, before being appointed last year to the role of prostate cancer specialist nurse, a position made possible through a partnership between CGH, the Wellington Biggest Ever Blokes Barbecue and the Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia.
The Prostate Cancer Specialist Nursing service also receives funding from the federal government and local and community supporters.
Another part of Mr Curran's role is community education, despite social distancing restrictions putting a temporary hold on some group talks.
Patients can be referred to him by other medical services, or can self-refer without the need for a medical referral.
Mr Curran can be reached on 5143 8944, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.