PARLIAMENT HOUSE, CANBERRA
TUESDAY 22 JULY 2019
Dr ALY: I join my colleagues in commending the member for Perth not only for raising awareness of this really important issue and bringing this motion forward but also for raising awareness about the fine work of Mr David Dyke and encouraging others to watch this documentary. As previous members have mentioned, prostate cancer is one of the most commonly diagnosed cancers in Australia and more men die of prostate cancer than do women of breast cancer. There has been a very concerted effort to raise awareness of breast cancer and the early detection of breast cancer. The majority of men with low-grade prostate cancer can live for many years without symptoms and without it spreading and becoming life threatening, which underscores the importance of raising awareness and encouraging men to get their PSA tested.
Like many families around Australia, my family is not immune to prostate cancer. My dear father-in-law, Alfie Allen, died of prostate cancer in 2012. He never got to attend our wedding, but we are thankful for the small blessings, like the fact that he got to hold his great-grandson about a week before he passed away. Not a day goes by that we don't think about Alfie and that we don't remember him in a fond way, but his death really had a big impact on the family. He lived with prostate cancer for about a decade and a half. His brother, Ronnie Allen, has recently also been diagnosed with prostate cancer. He underwent radiation and, thankfully, he's doing okay. But, like many families, we know that if you have a first degree male relative with prostate cancer you have a higher chance of developing it than men with no such history, and the risk increases again if more than one male relative has prostate cancer. Prostate cancer in my family in particular—in the case of my husband, David, both his father and his uncle have been diagnosed with prostate cancer—is something that we're very aware of, and so my husband has regular check-ups.
When I saw that the member for Perth had put this motion I took the opportunity here today not just to share the personal story but also to share with people out there just how important it is to have regular check-ups in the same way that women have regular check-ups for breast cancer. We go do our mammograms and we do our self-check-ups. Sometimes I think blokes are a little more hesitant to look after their health. Sometimes I think it's important for us women to give them a little bit more of a push to look after their health and to make sure that they are getting their PSA test and that they are going for regular check-ups. I know that my colleagues who have spoken here today have all spoken about their own reasons for raising awareness of prostate cancer. For me, I guess, as the wife of a man who has a high risk of prostate cancer because prostate cancer runs in the family, I'd like to put out a message to all the women out there to raise awareness among them of the need to encourage their male partners to have their prostate tests regularly as well.
If one does happen to get prostate cancer there are some great initiatives and support services in the community. These include groups and events run by the Cancer Council or the Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia and more visible initiatives such as Movember. My husband won't grow a moustache but he's quite welcome to grow a goatee during Movember in recognition and raising awareness of prostate cancer. Once again I commend the member for Perth for raising this really important issue and also those members who spoke before me about raising awareness of prostate cancer. I encourage everyone to continue to speak up about just how important it is to get those tests done and to look after men's health.