The Latrobe Valley Prostate Support Group was formed to assist men with prostate issues, whether that be prostate cancer or other problems.
The Latrobe Valley Prostate Support Group was established in 2010, being reformed from a lapsed Community Health Group which had been formed in 2009. Col Bermingham and Allan Cunningham instigated the re-establishment of the Group and Col Bermingham was elected the Secretary Convenor of the Group.
For the first three months, we met at the Morwell Community Health Office. Then an arrangement was made with The Morwell Club at 136 Helen Street to meet every fourth Wednesday of the month at 7pm. This generous offer came at no charge to the Group. Some of the members also meet there for a delicious counter tea and fellowship before the meeting.
The Group consists of men who have emerging prostate issues, or who have previously undergone treatment, or are still having treatment.
Over the past ten years, the Group has been involved in many events and awareness campaigns in the Valley and the wider Gippsland area, including Bunnings BBQs, shopping centre and street stalls in both Traralgon and Morwell. Some of these events were fundraisers.
We have raised over $40,000 during the past ten years.
Our Group has been heavily involved in the Latrobe Valley Biggest Ever Blokes BBQ, held at Kernot Hall, having helped bring it to the Valley. Several members of the Group have been on the Committee, which has raised over $600,000.
Over 700 men attended the first BBQ. Between 500 and 600 have attended in subsequent years.
Unfortunately, we were unable to hold the event during the past two years due to COVID-19.
The Committee has initiated four research projects in the Valley, including two studies that evaluated statistics about the prevalence of prostate cancer in the region, including treatment and death rates.
Eight years ago, we had the highest death rate from prostate cancer in Australia, but this has fallen significantly since then – we hope that our activities have helped with this improvement.
Our current research project, led by Oncologist Dr Mahesh Iddawela at Latrobe Regional Hospital, looks at blood markers in prostate cancer patients’ bodies. There have been huge advancements in different drugs and they can be evaluated through the blood markers. Often these cases are the most difficult to achieve responses on, so this work is critical in the fight against more aggressive metastatic cancers. Life expectancy has improved in the last five years, with better treatments and better drugs.
The Group also helped to evaluate the Blue Bus concept which came to Loy Yang A and the Australian Paper Mill, as well as Lardner Field Days. The Blue Bus also featured at our first Blue Ball Game at Churchill Football Ground.
The Blue Bus project has developed from the old blue Volvo bus to the flash, million-dollar, purpose-designed bus in which two doctors, plus nurses, can conduct proper examinations and tests.
This new bus is called the Incolink Bus and it visits numerous large construction sites in Melbourne. It is planned to visit the Valley this year (2022), subject to COVID restrictions.
Blue Ball Game
The inaugural Blue Ball Game, which we supported as a Group, was a footy match between Churchill and Cowwarr.
This concept was very successful as an awareness day, with women attending the luncheon as well. Doctors and other notable speakers, led by Stan Alves, gave informative addresses to the gathering. Afterwards we were treated to an entertaining country football match. Hopefully, the Blue Ball Game can start up again this season, depending on COVID.
The Group, with a prostate awareness stall, attended the Motorbike Rally at Mirboo North and the Rotary Conference at Sale in 2016. We also attended several speaking events in the Valley, including Rotary, Probus, Lions and local churches.
Male Bag Ride
The Male Bag Foundation’s 2016 East Gippsland three-day ride included over 20 postie bikes and raised nearly $33,000 for a biopsy machine for Bairnsdale District Hospital.
We helped organise the Male Bag fundraiser through Gippsland in 2016. Participants ride small Honda postie bikes all over Australia raising funds for prostate cancer, with most proceeds providing trans-perineal biopsy machines for hospitals.
In 2016, it was a three-day event, with the first day kicking off in Melbourne. Riders travelled to Traralgon for lunch, then headed to Lakes Entrance for dinner, where David Parkin was guest speaker.
The second day went from Lakes Entrance by Peels Cruiser to Metung, then to Bairnsdale for a BBQ lunch, and off again to Traralgon. Dinner was held at the Traralgon Tennis Club, with David Parkin as guest speaker again.
On the final day, the bikes left from Traralgon and headed to Mirboo North, then on to Wonthaggi as the last stop before the group returned to Melbourne.