"I wanted to live": John shares his diagnosis for Prostate Cancer Awareness Month

Published 5:00am 11 September 2022

"I wanted to live": John shares his diagnosis for Prostate Cancer Awareness Month
Words by Ashleigh Howarth

When John Dowling was diagnosed with prostate cancer at the age of 69, it changed his world upside down.

The cancer was detected after a regular checkup in 2013, when John’s doctor sent him for further tests after recording a high PSA (a protein produced by the prostate).

“When doctors tell you that you have cancer and you have never thought about it before, it scares the living hell out of you,” John says.

“The urologist told me, and I will never forget this sentence – “you have an aggressive cancer, and it needs to be removed or it will kill you”.

“I almost fell out of the chair – it was full on.

“What concerned me most was, I am never going to see my grandkids grow up.

“I wanted to live.”

Following his shock diagnosis, John says he “crashed into a rollercoaster of emotions”.

“I had fear, uncertainty, doubt, anxiety, depression and even paranoia,” John says.

Three months later, John had surgery at the Wesley Hospital, but doctors were unable to remove all the cancer.

“I was told the surgery was a success, but the outcome wasn’t,” John explains.

“That was another emotional crisis – I was an emotional wreck.”

John then endured 37 sessions of radiation therapy and received lots of support from the healthcare workers at Genesis Care.

Fast forward nine-and-a-half years, John sill has regular checkups and loves spending time with his three grandchildren.

John has also spent the last six years on a national committee set up by Genesis Care that discusses patient care from the patient’s perspective.

Early detection is key

John is sharing his story as part of Prostate Cancer Awareness Month, which is held every September.

Prostate cancer has overtaken breast cancer as the country’s leading cause of cancer, with 66 men diagnosed every day.

In Moreton Bay’s north region alone, around 225 men are expected to be diagnosed this year.

One in five men are diagnosed by the age of 85.

Sadly, 10 men die each day from the disease.

That is why John is urging men to be brave and get tested.

“The biggest problem that still remains in heading to a cure is early diagnosis, and the reason for that is men don’t look after their health,” John says.

“They don’t get a regular checkup or talk to others about how they are feeling.

“Early diagnosis is the key.”

More information about prostate cancer can be found on the Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia website.

"I wanted to live": John shares his diagnosis for Prostate Cancer Awareness Month

Support network for men

John found solace when he joined the Moreton Bay Regional Prostate Cancer Support Group where he could talk about his journey and help others who were going through the same experience.

The group provides support to men from all over Moreton Bay, including as far north as Caboolture and Bribie Island, out west to Mount Glorious, and down to the peninsula.

Meetings are attended by men coping with a recent diagnosis, those who have had various forms of treatment, men living with prostate cancer and even men who have been cured.

The group has roughly 90 members who come and attend monthly meetings and social catch ups, such as lunches, picnics, excursions and more.

“We always have a guest speaker who comes to the meetings,” John explains.

“They can talk about anything – it could be about medical treatment, computers, or anything else that is of interest to the members.”

John says the group has just celebrated a big milestone.

“The group has been operating for 10 years – in fact, we just celebrated our 10th anniversary last Thursday (September 1),” John says.

The group meets at 6pm on the first floor of the Mango Hill Community Centre (The Y) on the second Thursday of the month.

To find out more about the Moreton Bay Regional Prostate Cancer Support Group, phone 0435 119 628 or send an email to [email protected]

You can also visit their website: www.prostatesupportgroup.org

Raising funds for Redcliffe Hospital

The Moreton Bay Regional Prostate Cancer Support Group recently held a successful fun run on the peninsula where they raised $15,000.

Proceeds from the day will be donated to the Urology Department at the Redcliffe Hospital and for the local community.

“The fun run was held on August 7, and it went from Woody Point to the Redcliffe Jetty and back again,” John says.

“It was a great day, and everyone had a lot of fun.

“My eldest daughter actually won the women’s 10km run.”

This was the third year the group has hosted the event, which John says is getting bigger each year.

“In the first year we had 50 runners, then last year I think we had 92, and this year we had 120 runners.”

The group is incorporated, have a constitution, and donations are tax deductible.


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