The traumatising thoughts inspiring Mackay man’s call
AFTER his diagnosis, all Graham Milligan could hear or see was the word 'cancer'. Now he is calling for more men to be vigilant in monitoring their health.
In December 2018, the now 63 year old had surgery to cure the prostate cancer he had been diagnosed with.
A year later, he found out the cancer had spread before his surgery and he lives with the disease to this day.
Fortunately, Mr Milligan said, the cancer had not spread to his bones. His stomach churns at the very thought of that happening.
But he had to give up work because of post-surgery incontinence issues. He has also been deprived of life's enjoyments - the former avid fisherman has been unable to cast a line for three years.
Mr Milligan said before his diagnosis he had shown no signs of cancer.
He has called on more men to go to their doctor and get the test done regularly - regardless of how uncomfortable the prostate examination may seem.
"In my own case, I have questions - what if the doctor came to me two years earlier? They might have got it before it spread from the prostate," Mr Milligan said.
"What if the doctor had left it for another 12 months? That could have been catastrophic and I could have been dead and buried.
"It's a horrid thought, we need to get it into blokes' heads to talk to the doctor."
The impacts of Mr Milligan's cancer are not limited to his health, with his family also worrying about what may happen to their father, grandfather and husband.
Mr Milligan said he had experience an attitude among other men that prostate cancer could be swept under the rug.
But like all cancers, the disease takes many lives a year.
Cancer Australia estimated more than 3300 deaths in 2019 were caused by prostate cancer, with more than 19,000 new patients.
Mr Milligan said most people he spoke to took six steps backwards when he mentioned seeking medical advice because of the way an examination was performed.
But he said men, particularly those over age 50, needed to be checked at least once a year and the condition needed the same attention other cancers - such as breast cancer - received.
"At this point in time it's all still very positive talking to the doctors. But in my own mind it's like sitting on a barbed wire fence," Mr Milligan said.
"I don't know which way it's going to go. I've had to come to terms with a lot of things, particularly in the past 12 months, and it's hard.
"It needs more publicity, it needs to be in the face."