26 October 2017
Inglewood grazier, Geoff Elliot, is sharing his prostate cancer story in the hope that it may inspire country men to take action in support of their own health
Thursday, 26 October 2017: Geoff has leant his voice to a series of videos highlighting the unique challenges faced by country men when it comes to prostate cancer. The videos have been produced by Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia (PCFA) with the support of New Holland Agriculture, who are committed to achieving better prostate cancer outcomes for country men.
Men living in regional and rural Australia are up to 21% more likely to die of prostate cancer than their metropolitan counterparts Associate Professor Anthony Lowe, Chief Executive Officer of PCFA says that it is time for men, particularly those living in rural areas, to take the issue of prostate cancer more seriously: "Many people are surprised to learn that prostate cancer kills more Australian men than breast cancer kills Australian women. That’s not to draw a comparison between two but just to point out to men that prostate cancer is that serious a health 'issue."
It is also important to understand that in the early stages of prostate cancer, when it can be treated and cured, there are often no symptoms. PCFA recommends that men over the age of 50, or over the age of 40 if they have a family history of prostate cancer, speak to their doctor about being tested for prostate cancer at their next health check."
As the Chair and Queensland Murray Darling Representative for Queensland Water & Land Careers, Geoff Elliot knows that part of the prostate cancer challenge for rural communities is based in traditional attitudes.
"I think that people on the land delay diagnosis and treatment for two reasons; one being the distance and availability of suitable specialists but the second thing is that they probably place more emphasis on their property and their livestock and crop management. They seem to put themselves second. You don’t envisage that there is something going to go wrong with your health until it's (possibly) too late."
"Well my message to people on the land is 'put yourself first'. Your property can't run without you. You are the linchpin to the operation of the whole show and I would encourage anyone to speak to their GP,” said Geoff.
Throughout his cancer journey, Geoff's family was a tremendous support to him. In his own words, prostate cancer is "not a journey of one person". However, whilst he was undertaking treatment in Toowoomba, several hours drive from the family farm in the Inglewood region, Geoff and his wife also came across the community of the Toowoomba Prostate Cancer Support Group. The group was formed in 2004 and has grown to about 120 members who actively support each other and help to grow prostate cancer awareness in the region.
New Holland Agriculture has been working with PCFA to raise rural awareness of prostate cancer by sharing exhibition space at Field Day events across the country. During CRT FarmFest in June, the Toowoomba Prostate Cancer Support Group was busy speaking to farmers about the importance of early detection and also the support that is available for those who’ve been affected.
As for Geoff, he has taken a philosophical approach to his own situation: "My treatment wasn't completely successful. I've learnt to live with that and I just treat every day as a bonus."