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'There's definitely hope:' Urologist to speak at local prostate cancer support meeting

Tara Jeffrey John Oliveira and Carl Kelly are hoping to spread the word about Sarnia’s prostate cancer support group.
Carl Kelly and John Oliveira, co-facilitators of the Prostate Cancer Support Group. (Submitted photo)

Tara Jeffrey

John Oliveira and Carl Kelly are hoping to spread the word about Sarnia’s prostate cancer support group.

“We definitely want more people to come out,” said Kelly, who co-facilitates the local group with Oliveira, along with groups in London and Wallaceburg. “One of the things we’re trying to do is reach out to a younger demographic…we are finding more and more men in their early 50s, even late 40s, who are coming to the table with some kind of diagnosis — be it, enlarged prostate, or cancer starting to grow.

“What we want to do is reach out to that group to get tested, talk to your doctor,” Kelly added. “I mean, as the old adage goes, early detection is worth a pound of cure.”

Oliveira was just 46 when he was diagnosed with prostate cancer, which, by that time, had already reached stage 3.

“So we’re really trying to get the awareness out to these younger guys,” he said.

The Sarnia group meets the second Tuesday of each month with in-person and Zoom options.

Many men are joined by their partners, where they discuss everything from new treatments, to emotional support.

“Cancer is a very individual journey,” said Kelly. “Some people prefer to keep it to themselves… while others need support on a regular basis.

“I would almost surmise that, through COVID-19, guys weren’t getting tested,” he added. “They weren’t going to the doctor… now we’re hearing more and more people are in later stage cancers, unfortunately.”

Many meetings include guest speakers, including a presentation this week from Sarnia urologist Dr. Paul Martin, who will discuss new treatment options for during and after prostate cancer, and on the transperineal prostate biopsy —  a procedure that helps diagnose prostate cancer, known for being extremely safe, with little to no risk of sepsis occurring afterwards.

Dr. Paul Martin (Bluewater Health photo)

Martin, along with urologists Dr. Alvaro Ramirez and Dr. Dhiraj Dhanjani, began offering ultrasound guided transperineal prostate biopsies two and a half years ago, and have since performed well over 500 procedures at Bluewater Health — the only hospital in southwestern Ontario to offer it.

“Not a lot of centres in Canada are doing this, so I’m happy to talk to the attendees about that,” said Martin. “And hopefully have a lot of time for Q&A  — that’s sometimes the best part of it for sure.”

Martin, who often refers patients to the support group, says he’s seen a lot of advancements in prostate cancer treatment, even over the past few years.

“We’ve got a lot of treatment available now that wasn’t available ten years ago,” he said. “We still don’t have a so-called cure for advanced or stage 4 prostate cancer, but men are living longer than they have, with newer treatments and with better quality of life as well.

“So there’s definitely hope.”

Kelly and Oliveira said they’re grateful that doctors and urologists like Dr. Martin take the time to meet with group members, especially amid their busy schedules.

“I know many are relieved that this group exists — that they have a place to go and chat,” said Kelly. “And I’ll be honest, at some of the meetings there’s tears, and there’s elation.

“But at the end of the day – I think there’s a level of comfort knowing they’re not going down this journey all by themselves.”

[email protected]


WHAT: Prostate Cancer Support Group featuring guest speaker Dr. Paul Martin

WHEN: Tuesday, Dec. 13, 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

WHERE: Lochiel Kiwanis Community Centre, 180 College Street., Sarnia, OR via Zoom

DETAILS: Open to the public; For the Zoom link, or more info, contact John at [email protected] or Carl at [email protected]

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