Maitland Cancer Appeal donates $250,000 to a TROG Cancer Research prostate cancer study

DONATION: Maitland Cancer Appeal committee member Paula Zuhnemer and secretary Lesley Flannery with Professor Jim Denham. Picture: Belinda-Jane Davis
DONATION: Maitland Cancer Appeal committee member Paula Zuhnemer and secretary Lesley Flannery with Professor Jim Denham. Picture: Belinda-Jane Davis

Maitland’s generosity in the fight against cancer has funded a $250,000 study into prostate cancer patients.

The study, which is the first of its kind in Australia and New Zealand, looked at patients who received treatment under TROG Cancer Research’s RADAR trial.

The trial determined whether adding another year of hormone treatment after radiotherapy improved the patient’s life. 

Two hundred men and 138 of their partners participated in the study and prostate cancer researcher Professor Jim Denham said the results were surprising.

It found 50 per cent of survivors felt they had lost their masculinity either during or after treatment, but their quality of life after treatment remained normal. 

“The most surprising result was that men who had been treated for prostate cancer ten years ago had similar quality of life to other men generally – even if they had experienced a relapse,” Professor Denham said.

“The findings of a feeling of loss of masculinity were particularly interesting because it didn’t seem to be linked necessarily to the duration of hormonal treatment.”

“It’s more a loss of their own identity, a loss of masculinity that eats away at their identity.

“In women’s breast cancers we see body image and feelings of loss of femininity in survivors following treatment - this study appears to verify a similar experience in men.

“We’re hoping by improving resilience it will help men identify with who they are.”

Professor Denham said TROG had been struggling to find the money to conduct the study and it would not have happened without Maitland Cancer Appeal’s $250,000 donation.

The community group raises money for cancer through an Op Shop in Rutherford shopping centre.

It has been committed to the cause since 1982. Over the years it has donated equipment to hospitals and provided funds for cancer research. 

It has helped fund studies into a range of projects including brain, lung and blood cancers.

“We were in deep strife with funding, it was like divine intervention,” Professor Denham said.

“They’ve played a big role in allowing this to proceed.

“This is a total blank area of literature – America has been calling for this for years, there’s been only a couple of little studies done.

“Studies about what patients are going through are even rarer.”

Maitland Cancer Appeal secretary Lesley Flannery was pleased the group continued to make a difference.

“I’m quite proud of what we do, we couldn’t do it without our members and volunteers, the customers and the general public – they are so generous,” she said.