PROSTATE cancer patients who live in rural South West Queensland will no longer need to travel to Brisbane for specialist care and treatment.

The region’s first ever specialist prostate cancer nurse will start servicing Toowoomba and surrounding towns from May 9 this year.

The nursing program has been jointly-funded by prostate cancer fundraising initiatives – It’s A Bloke Thing Foundation (IABT) and ManUp! (through a donation from Hand Heart Pocket).

Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia (PCFA) chief executive Dr Anthony Lowe says the nursing appointment would offer men in rural areas critical support and care.

“We are thrilled to be able to facilitate a Toowoomba-based nurse with the generous support of It’s A Bloke Thing and ManUp! The program has been successful in other parts of Australia and we hope this will be a long-term proposition for the Toowoomba region,” said Dr Lowe.

The 2016 IABT Foundation chairman Mr John Wagner, a prostate cancer survivor, says it makes sense some of the funds raised through local support were put back into the community.

“We are very proud to have raised $4.5m since we started five years ago and while we see research and education as paramount, a local nurse to help men in our region is just as important.

“Not all men in rural Australia have the means to travel to capital cities for treatment. It can be a very stressful time not only for the men but the families and we hope this nurse will be able to support them through treatment options and beyond,” says Mr Wagner.

ManUp! co-founder and director Jill Costello has applauded IABT’s decision to come on board to jointly-fund the nursing program, which has been running nationally for the past three years.

“This is such an important step forward and vital that men in the region get access to services. Toowoomba has excellent specialists and facilities and now with a nurse on board, it will be a great model for prostate cancer services for other regions,” says Mrs Costello.

Former Australian cricketer and Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia ambassador Matthew Hayden, whose father Lawrie has suffered prostate cancer, says it’s welcome news a nurse has been funded to support men in the region.

“Having grown up regional Queensland I understand the vastness of our great state and the time it takes to get to capital cities.

“I am sure that this extremely well-qualified nurse will be a great relief to families that every day that have to deal with prostate cancer as there is nothing like the personal contact with someone to answer any queries.

“For our family to have the support of PCFA was certainly a relief,” says Mr Hayden.

The Toowoomba nurse will be based two days a week at Toowoomba Hospital, two days a week at St Andrew’s Toowoomba Hospital and one day in the catchment area of 170,000 men, which includes Toowoomba, Kingaroy, Cunnamulla, Charleville, Quilpie, Moree, Tenterfield and Taroom.

The joint IABT/ManUp! contribution for the program is $150,000/year for three years.

More than 3,440 men died from prostate cancer in Australia last year.