There’s a good chance that men who get involved with the Pictou County Prostate Cancer Support Association (PCPCSA) will experience a better quality of life during a very difficult time. Few men are aware of the drastic changes that can occur with prostate cancer. The association, which began in 2001, promotes awareness, raises money and provides valuable support. Improving the psychological well-being of men who have been diagnosed with prostate cancer is a key goal for the group. Understanding options and finding help with difficult decisions can go a long way.
Initially PCPCSA was founded around friendship and support. It was very personal and no one would have expected it to grow into one of the province’s most active and longstanding associations. Meetings, held monthly at the UCT building behind Summer Street are welcoming, low key and can provide an invaluable network. Today the group has close to 100 members, including many spouses and partners.
Along with awareness, education and support, fundraising is a big part of what PCPCSA does. The association is involved in local fundraising events like the Dragon Boat Festival, Donald Keddy Hockey Tournament, and the Shoot for Dad, Archery Competition. Money raised supports research, provides financial assistance to Pictou County men for travel and drug expenses, and funds specialized equipment needed for prostate cancer treatment at the Aberdeen Hospital. PCPCSA has been an important donor and partner for the Aberdeen Health Foundation as well as other charities that support cancer patients.
Since 2007, PCPCSA has donated close to $120,000 to the Aberdeen Health Foundation to support services for cancer patients and their families. Equipment purchases began with a Biopsy Gun and have included a Vital Signs Monitor, Ultrasound and a Chemo Hood. They have also supported staff development, palliative care, and the Oncology Patient Fund, which assists with the extra costs of a cancer diagnosis, including prescriptions, medical devices, and travel for treatment. “The Aberdeen Hospital does not have a Urology Department or Prostate Cancer treatment program, therefore patients have to travel to Truro or Halifax,” notes PCPCSA Vice-President, Bill Skinner. “Our equipment support is based on needs and recommendations by the Aberdeen Health Foundation, not necessarily limited to prostate cancer. Palliative Care and Cancer Care Supports such as drugs or travel are high priority because many of our members have used these services.”
In February, the association donated $7,800 for furnishings in the Palliative Care Unit. The donation includes a new sectional for the family room, and for the library: a dining table, end tables and lamps. “Families often find themselves spending many hours in the unit alongside loved ones,” says Dr. Anne Kwasnik, Medical Director for Aberdeen Hospital’s Palliative Care Unit, “so having some comforts of home is important to everyone’s wellbeing. This donation from PCPCSA is very much appreciated and goes a long way to supporting families.”
“The PCPCSA has been a tremendous advocate and partner for prostate cancer awareness and care in our community. Their longstanding support of initiatives at the Aberdeen Hospital through the Foundation has resulted in a significant enhancement in services for prostate cancer patients, and other cancer patients as well,” says Michelle Ferris, Executive Director, Aberdeen Health Foundation. “We thank them for their commitment, and ready support for the needs which arise in our community.”
One of the greatest challenges for the PCPCSA is creating the awareness necessary to encourage men to take appropriate action. In many cases, providing the support is easier than reaching men before they actually need support. There are a few simple steps that can lead to early diagnosis and this can make all the difference. Early detection saves lives. The next time you see the men in their blue jackets at an event – go and talk to them! You will be glad you did.
Pictured left to right: Lorne Smith, PCPCSA Secretary; Michelle Ferris, Aberdeen Health Foundation, Executive Director; Dr. Anne Kwasnik, Medical Director for Aberdeen Hospital’s Palliative Care Unit; Ken Langille, PCPCSA President; Bill Skinner, PCPCSA Vice-President.