13 September 2023

PCFA has partnered with Icon Cancer Centre for Prostate Cancer Awareness Month and The Long Run to help raise more awareness about prostate cancer. PCFA Prostate Cancer Specialist Nurse, Yvonne Singaraju, is based at Icon Centre in Midland and has shared her story this month with the team.

Written by Shannon Shepard, Icon Cancer Centre

Prostate cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in Australian men. Over 25,000 men are diagnosed each year. Receiving a prostate cancer diagnosis can fuel the fear of the unknown. Patients can become overwhelmed when it comes to choosing the best treatment option and may struggle to manage side effects.

Now prostate cancer patients in Midland and surrounds have additional support at their local Icon Cancer Centre. In January this year, Prostate Cancer Specialist Nurse, Yvonne Singaraju joined the Icon Cancer Centre Midland team.

Through the Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia’s (PCFA) Prostate Cancer Specialist Nursing Service, prostate cancer specialist nurses like Yvonne are placed in health care settings across the country in partnership with health service providers like Icon.

The service has been made possible thanks to funding from the Federal Government and generous local and community supporters.

Yvonne and her fellow prostate cancer nurses work with the team involved in a patient’s care. They provide support to men and their families in all areas of prostate cancer care, whether they are newly diagnosed or have already commenced treatment.

Yvonne says a typical day in the role involves screening new patient referrals, organising support services and referrals for patients undergoing treatment, receiving patient calls and emails, offering education and support for staff at Icon and fostering prostate cancer awareness.

She says it’s a role she thoroughly enjoys.

“As a little girl, I always wanted to be a midwife. I started my studies at Notre Dame University in Fremantle in 2007 and started in the graduate nurse program with King Edward Memorial Hospital and Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital in 2011. I stayed on the cardiothoracic, vascular and urology ward, then become the Cardiothoracic Patient Educator before I went on maternity leave,” says Yvonne.

“I heard (the Prostate Cancer Specialist Nurse role) is a well-supported and valued role by a colleague of mine. I enjoy talking to patients and finding out what makes them enjoy life, so this role was one I could relate to very well. The Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia were very helpful and provided great training and resources.”

Yvonne now provides practical and emotional support to men who are dealing with a prostate cancer diagnosis and subsequent treatment.

“I like to break down any anxiety or concerns that men have by asking them to share their journey to get to this point and identifying the gaps in care to support them as best I can. I also try to bring a bit of humour into the conversation to lighten the mood a bit, depending on the patient,” says Yvonne.

“It’s a rewarding role. I remember the first patient I supported as a new Prostate Cancer Specialist Nurse. We’ve been through the ups and downs of diagnosis, treatment and symptoms and just being there for him through the battles, I know he really appreciates my role and looks forward when I call him. Hearing him light up when I call him always makes my day”   

Yvonne says she is heartened by new treatments for prostate cancer recent years. But she knows there is still much work to be done in the space.

“I wish that prostate cancer statistics would decline or all cancer statistics for that matter. I wish there was a cure for all cancers. Until that happens, we must continue to support men on their prostate cancer journey. It’s important to remember that prostate cancer doesn’t just impact older men, it can strike men at any age,” says Yvonne.

Outside of work, Yvonne is passionate about creating a healthy work-life balance with her young family and taking time out for herself.

“I enjoy cooking and travelling the world. I try to visit a new country every two years. I also enjoy sewing and going on picnics. I would like to take up a new hobby or learn a new skill.” says Yvonne.

“There are difficult days (in the role) and I try to communicate with my colleagues, family and friends. And of course, chocolate makes everything better!”

Yvonne is the second PCFA Prostate Cancer Specialist Nurse to join the Icon network, with Miranda Dibdin supporting men at Icon Cancer Centre Mackay. Icon will welcome three new Prostate Cancer Specialist Nurse in Victoria in September 2023.

For more information about the PCFA Prostate Cancer Specialist Nursing Service, click here.

o get involved in The Long Run, visit www.thelongrun.org.au