Rolly, who is 84 years old, was a founding member of the Geelong Prostate Support Group.
He was a Mathematics and Science teacher and taught in Geelong technical schools before retiring in 1987 when he was 55.
In 2001 Rolly had a blood test as part of a general health check-up. His PSA was included amongst the tests, and Rolly’s GP expressed concern when that test returned a score of 7.4.
Rolly was referred to a urologist. A biopsy was undertaken and this revealed a Gleason score 6. “This was a real shock to me.” Rolly recalls that the urologist “was pleased to let me know that it was ‘treatable.'” His urologist indicated that it would be best if he had surgery, “but it is up to you to make up your own mind.”
Rolly was told to come back in three months, with a decision.
Rolly commenced his research. He began by talking to people who had prostate cancer, and wanted to learn from their experiences. He followed this up with intensive reading and internet investigation. Rolly was determined to empower himself with the knowledge to be able to make the best possible decision when he returned to the urologist.
The person who was most significant in terms of action was Bruce Kinnersley, who would later join with Rolly and a few others in founding the Geelong Prostate Support Group. “I found Bruce closer and easier to relate to than any specialist or doctor; I found his advice on the use of natural therapies and eating organic foods to be so valuable.”
At the time there was no Prostate Support Group in Geelong, so Rolly joined the Melbourne Group and attended its monthly meetings. Here he gained further information and contacts.
After the three months Rolly felt ready to return to his urologist. “I had acquired so much knowledge that I felt truly empowered to make the decision that was best for me.” He had narrowed it down to either surgery or brachytherapy. Rolly ultimately decided on the surgery. He returned to the urologist, told him of the decision “and the urologist confidently informed me not to worry, that he had done 800 to 1000 of these operations.”
The surgery took place in October 2002. Post-operative pathology test results indicated good margins. On-going post-operative PSA testing has been very good, with some minor fluctuations coming off an already very low score.
During the three months that Rolly was attending the Melbourne PSG meetings, he was told that there were many visits and enquiries from men who had been diagnosed with prostate cancer who were living in Geelong. It was suggested by one of the Melbourne members that there was an obvious need for a PSG in Geelong. Rolly and several others decided to proceed with the formation of a Geelong group. The first meeting was held in July, 2003. There were 15 men and some partners present at that first meeting. Rolly became the Group’s first coordinator. The Geelong Prostate Support Group has continued meeting monthly since that day, with attendance at meetings now often exceeding 35, and with an active Partners’ Group.
Most of Rolly’s time now is taken up working as a full-time carer for his wife, Melva. When he has the opportunity to take time out, Rolly enjoys visiting mates and walking. He loves bowls, but has had to give that away.