Prostate centre kicks off campaign

Ron Hunter understands the importance of giving back to support groups in the community.

Ron Hunter understands the importance of giving back to support groups in the community.

Ten years ago, the Esquimalt resident was going through a difficult time in his life.

Hunter was living in Saskatchewan when he was diagnosed with prostate cancer. At the time, his then-wife was also coping with brain cancer.

“I think like anyone else, it’s a bit of a shock. It’s not very pleasant to have that kind of a diagnosis,” said Hunter, admitting his focus was more on his wife than his own health. “It’s one of those things that life throws at you and you just have to suck it up and find a way to deal with it.”

He opted to have a radial prostatectomy, however, not all the cancer was removed.

Shortly after his wife passed away and Hunter moved to Victoria. He was looking for ways to give back to the community, when he stumbled on the Island Prostate Centre.

The local non-profit organization offers free programs and support services to men and their families facing a prostate cancer diagnosis.

For the last eight years, Hunter has been volunteering his time to help run a monthly support group for roughly 30 to 80 men at the centre.

“I’m continuing to work through my cancer journey. I think that it’s good to be involved with people who have gone through the same thing,” Hunter said.

“The fact is that, the support alone is essential. It’s important to have others around you who have been there and are continuing to work through it.”

The centre, which currently runs on donations from the community, is kicking off its annual fundraising campaign in celebration of its 15th anniversary this month.

This year, the centre hopes to raise $400,000 to go towards programs and support groups (including the one Hunter runs) for the more than 1,000 patients it sees annually, and expanding its services up Island.

“Many times when men are diagnosed with prostate cancer, they feel a sense of isolation, that they’re going through this alone,” said Leanne Kopp, executive director with the Island Prostate Centre.

“Prostate is something not a lot of men are open to talking about. But if they have an opportunity to get in a group setting or talk to someone who has been there themselves, then there’s that opportunity for people not to feel that sense of isolation.”

For more information visit islandprostatecentre.com. November is also known as Movember, a national program, in which men grow mustaches to raise money and awareness for prostate cancer.