17 March 2023

When Perth brothers, Ray and Frank Lane, were diagnosed with prostate cancer within a year of each other, they knew they needed to take action to ensure more blokes were aware of their risks and had access to support if they were diagnosed.

Prostate cancer first impacted the Lane family when Ray and Frank’s father was diagnosed with the disease in 1990.

Twenty-nine years later in 2019, after noticing “a queue forming behind me every time I went to the urinals at the footy”, Ray booked an appointment with his GP. Two days before Christmas, Ray got the news he had prostate cancer at age 63.

“I learnt that if your father or brother has been diagnosed with prostate cancer, your risk doubles. If two of more close male relatives have been diagnosed, your risk increases five-fold,” he shared.

“So, promptly after I was diagnosed, I rounded up my three brothers, brothers-in-law and cousins and their adult sons to get a PSA test.”

As a result, in mid-2020, his older brother Frank was also diagnosed with prostate cancer at age 66.

“I had started experiencing problems with going to the toilet – urgency and slow flow – but my PSA was still at 2.0. It wasn’t until I advised the GP that my younger brother and father had had prostate cancer, that he sent me for further investigation,” Frank said.

“Despite a low PSA, after a MRI and biopsy, I was diagnosed with prostate cancer with a Gleason 7 (4+3). Letting the GP know about my family history saved my life.”

Both men underwent a radical prostatectomy and continue to undergo regular monitoring.

Instead of letting the diagnoses set them back, Ray and Frank have channelled their energy into helping other blokes who were going through the same experience they have.

They’re now both dedicated members of the Ocean Reef Prostate Cancer Support Group, with Ray having led the group since 2021, and are regular volunteers with PCFA at local fundraising and awareness events, including Classic Cars & Coffee.

Ray and Frank both agreed that having a support network around you after a diagnosis can make all the difference.

“When I heard the word cancer, I felt the world was collapsing on top of me and felt alone. My GP suggested I attend the Ocean Reef Support Group and at the first meeting, there were men who had been there, done that, and come out the other side,” Ray said.

“I went into that meeting feeling so terribly and unfairly anxious and alone, but I left with practical tips, assurance about the future, and phone numbers for contacts for further information.

“The lived experience of members of the group took a huge weight off my shoulders. I saw there was a future after a diagnosis of prostate cancer. I also got to trust a great bunch of men and their partners who care for me and for other people.”

Frank said he had the benefit of being able to lean on Ray for information once he was diagnosed, having already been through the disease.

“Ray advised me to call PCFA and the lady I spoke with was very compassionate and helpful, and forwarded me information booklets. I then joined the Ocean Reef PCSG too,” Frank said.

“The benefit of being part of a group is that you can talk to people who have gone through the prostate cancer journey, as well as those that are also at the beginning. You realise you are not alone with these issues, and you can talk about these things and not be embarrassed.

“Everyone understands what you’re going through and supports each one.”

As leader of the Ocean Reef PCSG, Ray said he’s committed to creating a supportive environment for all who attend.

“Men first come into the group as cancer worriers. Regular attendees return as prostate cancer warriors, ready to help others to battle on with their journey to treatment and recovery,” Ray shared.

Reaching men before they are diagnosed is also a key area of focus for both Ray and Frank.

Through their community work and awareness activities, they are passionate about getting the message out about early detection.

“I have four sons and I have emphasised to them that they should establish a baseline PSA and inform their GPs about the family history of prostate cancer. This goes for other men too – discuss having a PSA test with your GP,” Frank shared.

Ray said he couldn’t agree more.

“Get tested and spread the word. Establish a baseline PSA and get regular tests,” he said.

“Find out if you have a family history of the disease and speak with your GP about it.

“Early detection can save you, and those you care about, a lot of grief.”

The Ocean Reef PCSG, based in Perth’s Northern suburbs, meet on the third Wednesday of every month from 6.45pm at the Beaumaris Community Centre.

For more information, visit www.pcfa.org.au/support/find-a-support-group/ocean-reef-pcsg.