IT’S as if time has stopped altogether; your heartbeat quickens, your mind searches for clarity.
It’s the first few seconds after you receive a cancer diagnosis, a defining moment in any person’s life.
But while that moment of diagnosis is writ large in every cancer survivor’s memory, some never let cancer define them.
People like Rick Schwarzer.
The former Griffith school principal, who was diagnosed with prostate cancer 10 years ago at age 65, has had a running battle with the pernicious disease.
In between prostate-specific antigen (PSA) checks, hormone injections, an operation to remove his prostate and even open heart surgery, Mr Schwarzer has maintained a positive attitude that borders on stubbornness.
“Cancer is a word, not a sentence,” Mr Schwarzer said.
“I know that’s a cliche, but the point is that you mustn’t be afraid of cancer – something can be done.
“Treatment can extend your life so much, as can a positive attitude.”
Mr Schwarzer thought he had the cancer beat, only to recently learn his PSA levels were again climbing upwards.
He remains typically positive about the fight ahead, and as publicity officer of Griffith Prostate Cancer Support Group (GPCSG), he is determined to spread the gospel about the importance of regular check-ups.
“You check your oil and tyres in your car, why
wouldn’t you check what’s happening in your body,” Mr Schwarzer said.
“It isn’t anywhere near as uncomfortable as you would think and it could save your life.”
Prostate cancer often appears without symptoms and Mr Schwarzer urged men over 50 to include the test in their annual check-up.
GPCSG, in conjuction with the Rotary Club of Griffith and the Cancer Council NSW, will next month bring one of the nation’s leading prostate cancer experts to Griffith.
Dr David Smith, a research fellow and cancer epidemiologist at Cancer Council NSW, will conduct a free community information session on Tuesday, September 3 at Griffith Ex-Servicemen’s Club from 7.30pm.