Jill and Brian Costello from ManUp! are saving lives.
The Queensland duo, both cancer survivors, will embark on a major four-week prostate cancer roadshow of the Western Downs this week. The first stop, Toowoomba.
Today (Tuesday July 11) they will deliver a powerful, thought-provoking presentation to a group of men from Toowoomba Regional Council.
Since starting their rural roadshow four years ago at least 17 men have been diagnosed with prostate cancer, one as young as 38.
Jill is passionate about getting men in rural communities to ‘man up’ about their health responsibilities.
“The majority of men who suffer prostate cancer have no symptoms and those who do are usually in the advance stages of the illness.
“Only one of the men diagnosed since listening to our talks had any symptoms at all,” warned Jill.
She said men from city communities were overall more proactive about their health and was determined not to give up the fight against the second most common cause of cancer-related death, after lung cancer.
With significant financial support from the Toowoomba-based It’s A Bloke Thing Foundation (IABT), the prostate cancer roadshow is expected to reach more than 15,000 people in 67 communities across Queensland including councils and mines around Chinchilla, Dalby and Roma.
The QantasLink It’s A Bloke Thing Prostate Cancer Roadshow focuses on early detection, treatment and ongoing support for men living with prostate cancer and their families.
Toowoomba business identity and It’s A Bloke Thing Foundation board member, David Russell, said one of his own staff had the Costellos to thank for being alive.
“Jill and Brian spoke to some of my staff a year ago and about a month later one of them came into my office to tell me some significant news.
“He went to the doctor for a check up and was so grateful he did as he was diagnosed with prostate cancer. He is extremely lucky because the disease was detected in the early stages,” said Mr Russell.
“Education really does saves lives. As a community we need to be educated and encourage the men in our families to take responsibility for their health.”
Mr Russell said one of major collaborations between It’s A Bloke Thing and ManUp! had been the appointment of the region’s first prostate cancer specialist nurse.
“We have both helped fund Jo Hiscock (the nurse), who is based at Toowoomba Hospital and St Andrew’s Toowoomba Hospital and one day in the catchment area of about 170,000 men, which includes Toowoomba” said Mr Russell.
Jo Hiscock has been in the job for just over a year and provides support to four urologists and hundreds of rural men from diagnosis through to all stages of their prostate cancer treatment. She sees more than 100 men a month and covers a catchment area about the size of Tasmania (geographically, about a third of Queensland).
Over the next month the Costellos will travel to communities between Toowoomba and St George in a borrowed ute from the FKG Group before completing the tour just prior to the million-dollar It’s A Bloke Thing Prostate Cancer Charity Lunch at Brisbane West Wellcamp Airport on August 15.
Since the IABT luncheon started six years ago, more than $4.5 has been raised for national and state-based research and education.