AN AGGRESSIVE form of prostate cancer almost took Alec Hamilton’s life without any warning.
Showing no symptoms of being affected by cancer, Mr Hamilton considered himself lucky when diagnosed by coincidence just over two years ago.
Delivered the life-altering news, the Glencoe resident then faced an agonising wait for treatment in Adelaide.
“Although I was diagnosed in October and advised to be treated before Christmas, I could not get in until January,” he said.
“After surgery, the results came back and the tumour was riddled with cancer and they were not sure whether they had got it all.
“It could have spread to my bladder or bowel which is why I am getting tests now, but if I was able to get in earlier it may have been different.”
Mr Hamilton said if easy-to-access treatment options were available in the Mount Gambier region, his results may have been more favourable.
“When my blood count doubled, information was sent to Adelaide for a biopsy,” he said.
“The frustrating thing was because I had a low reading they figured I was not a rush.
“They did not tell me I was going to have to wait and I could not go anywhere for five months … I was put on the back-burner because they had no room.”
After diagnosis, Mr Hamilton discovered the Mount Gambier Prostate Cancer Support Group and became a member.
“I never even knew about the group until after I was diagnosed,” he said.
In an effort to raise awareness and funding, Mr Hamilton will shave his long locks and beard to raise money for the group to help purchase biopsy equipment for the Mount Gambier Hospital.
“We hope if all goes to plan, we will have enough funding to contribute and help purchase the equipment before Christmas this year,” Mr Hamilton said.
“Hopefully it will be able to used by people in the region including areas like Naracoorte, Millicent, Penola and surrounding areas as 100km is not much compared to 500km.”
Mr Hamilton attributes a diabetes health check to saving his life.
“I was having regular blood tests for my diabetes and the doctor suggested I should have prostate cancer screening tests due to my age,” he said.
“I was being tested every three months and all of a sudden my blood count jumped from four to eight.
“I had none of the symptoms that people with prostate cancer had, nothing was enlarged, I was not having problem going to the toilet, not going to the toilet all night.”
Mr Hamilton said there may be other people in the region who do not necessarily fit the criteria who are yet to be diagnosed.
“We do not know why men do not like to talk to it, but when we reach out to the community, we get a better response from wives and girlfriends,” he said.
“It is the biggest subject in their minds, but when there are over 20,000 people being diagnosed with it each year it is more prevalent than breast cancer.
“I just think why the hell are people not talking about it?”
Urging people to not leave tests too late, Mr Hamilton said the recommended time frame for men aged 40 with prostate cancer history or 50 without history was every 12 months.
“In my case if I had been tested every 12 months I would not be here today,” he said.
“I urge people at least every six months and three would be ideal as there is no hard or fast rule.
“Last year we heard a couple of people had died from it because they left it too late and their doctor had not pushed it.”
Mr Hamilton said testing was “simple” compared to previous years.
“At the Lucindale Field Days last year, the group found it was a 50/50 response between those who had been tested recently and those who had not,” he said.
“It is basically a simple blood test and is quite easy …. do not leave it too late.”
Mr Hamilton will have his head and facial hair shaved on Friday from 6.30pm at the Mount Gambier RSL function room.
A light supper will be offered by the RSL Ladies Auxiliary with entry a $10 donation per person.
A raffle and silent action will be held with all proceeds donated towards purchasing the biopsy equipment.