TERRY WHEELERHunter Prostate Cancer Support GroupTERRY Wheeler is the man you want in your corner when the going gets tough.
As a founder of the Hunter Prostate Cancer Support Group, Mr Wheeler has backed hundreds of men –and their partners – who have been diagnosed with prostate cancer.
One of those men was Maitland man John Leeks, who described his diagnosis as “sheer terror” as he struggled to come to terms with it.
LEADERSHIP: Terry Wheeler, right, with support worker Greg Milan at a meeting of the Hunter Prostate Cancer Support Group.
But, thanks to Mr Wheeler,he turned “giving up” into renewed optimism about the future.
It is a story that has been repeated hundreds of times over within the support group, Mr Leeks said.
“Terry has spent 20 years speaking to people over the phone, visiting them at their home, visiting them in hospital, he makes every contact he can –even though he himself has severe prostate cancer,” Mr Leeks said.
“I think the only way you can describe that is extreme charity and generosity.”
According to Cancer Australia, more than 16,000 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer this year.
It is estimated that 3400 men die from prostate cancer every year.
Mr Leeks said the value of the support group founded by Mr Wheeler was the camaraderie between its members.
“Terry basically set me straight; he got me talking to other people,” he said.
“The first thing that happens when you hear prostate cancer is you go blank.
“It comes out of the blue, so it’s critical that you talk to people.
“Doctors are very good at giving medical advice, but when you’re in there all you’re hearing is cancer.
“When you talk to people about it, you know what to expect, you become more optimistic.”
Mr Wheeler said the group was designed to be encouraging –not only for men, but their partners as well.
“The strength of the group, for the last 20 years or more, is that people, including their wives, can talk about things important to them about their prostate cancer journey,” he said.
“We do this on a one to one basis or in a group discussion environment … it is purely at what our members and especially new members want to do.
“We cater for all people and we don’t push anyone in any way.
“We find that the doctors cannot provide the sort of fellowship and time that is provided by our group.”
The Hunter Prostate Cancer Support Group meets on the second Tuesday of the month at Maryland Community Centre. Attending the meeting is free.
To find out more, visit hunterprostatesupport.org