It is a sobering fact that more than 1800 men in our region are living or have lived with prostate cancer.
Men in the Loddon Mallee region are also eight per cent more likely to be diagnosed with this cancer compared with the Victorian average.
Hundreds of Bendigo men have gathered on November 17 to try to change those alarming numbers - and create hope for those living through the disease.
Bendigo's Biggest Ever Blokes Lunch (BBEBL) held their annual fundraising event at the All Seasons on Friday, with the goal to raise enough to get the group's collective efforts over 11 years past $1 million.
Last year's event alone raised $125,000 for prostate cancer research and treatment - and BBEBL chair Neil Macdonald said over the past 11 years the event had raised an incredible $975,000.
Those funds have gone to the Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia's (PCFA) research and support services, with last year's sum also assisting to purchase two new probes for a transperineal biopsy machine at Bendigo Health alongside funds for the local Prostate Cancer Support Group.
Members of the group include Ted Hocking, Russell Brown, Barry Martin and Alan Milikins who tirelessly volunteer to create a supportive space for those suffering or recovering from this disease.
The group hope that by sharing their individual journeys with prostrate cancer, they will help to raise awareness and encourage people to get a check up.
"Prostate Cancer impacts the families and friends of the men diagnosed, making this an inclusive event open to everyone - not just blokes," Mr Macdonald said.
This year's guest speakers included former AFL player David Schwarz and compere and comedian Des Dowling.
Last year the PCFA said the funds made a "tremendous difference" to their work to support men in the Bendigo region, calling the BBEBL team "champions" - and this year's funds are sure to be as equally welcome.
Prostate cancer is the most common form of cancer in Australia, followed by breast cancer and colorectal cancers.
25,400 males are expected to be diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2023 - with the average age of 70 at diagnosis.
According to the Cancer Council, early stages of the disease rarely cause symptoms - and even those with advanced forms of the disease may have no symptoms.
If symptoms occur, men are advised to look out for the following:
The above may not always be symptoms of prostate cancer, but the best port of call is to speak to a GP about any concerns.
The message, from the BBEBL team, Bendigo's Prostate Cancer Support Group and from doctors, is to get a check up and for men to make their health a priority.
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