Wollongong local Rod McKellar has joined the quest this September for Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia’s pinnacle event, The Long Run.
After losing his son, Michael, to the disease, and enduring his own diagnosis and battle with prostate cancer. He is determined to raise funds and awareness to help make prostate cancer history.
Prostate cancer has recently overtaken breast cancer as the country’s leading cause of cancer, with 66 men diagnosed every day. In the Illawarra region alone, around 240 men are expected to be diagnosed this year.
Held during Prostate Cancer Awareness Month, The Long Run calls on locals to run, walk or wheel 72km throughout the month to raise funds and awareness for those impacted by the disease.
Rod said he had to take action after knowing first-hand the devastating effects prostate cancer can have on families and the community.
“Just ten months ago, we lost our beautiful 49-year-old son, Michael, to prostate cancer; he was taken from us way too early,” he said.
“We are determined to raise awareness among younger men about the steps they can take to receive a diagnosis early enough to save their lives.”
Rod’s life was further impacted by prostate cancer with his own diagnosis and radical prostatectomy.
“Fortunately, I survived the experience and have a reasonably ‘normal’ life living with the consequences. Michael’s brother, Andrew, was also diagnosed with prostate cancer and had a robotic operation and thankfully now leads a relatively ‘normal’ post prostate cancer life,” he said.
“Sadly, this was not to be Michael’s experience. He was simply diagnosed too late for any operation to save him. He received many treatments, in part due to the research results from Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia. However, in the end, the disease won… the family was and is still devastated.
“My motivation is to honour our son’s memory and raise as much money as I possibly can to help provide an awareness campaign, especially for younger men; to help provide funds for further research into treatments and hopefully cures, and to make prostate cancer history.”
Locals can get behind Rod’s efforts by donating at https://www.thelongrun.org.au/fundraisers/rodmckellar/the-long-run-2022
Rod added, “Michael is lovingly missed by his wife Jenny, Mum Carol, brother Andrew, younger sister Vanessa (Ness) – a local Wollongong firefighter of twenty years, and the rest of the family; his work colleagues at Thales, and friends from the local Gladesville Ravens Soccer Club and Mini Car Club.”
Locals can register in one easy step via thelongrun.org.au.
PCFA CEO Anne Savage encouraged locals to join Rod on their mission by taking part.
“The Long Run is expected to be the biggest in history this year, with increasing numbers of men being diagnosed and nearly 10 men dying from prostate cancer every single day,” Ms Savage said.
“The number of men being diagnosed with prostate cancer is increasing more rapidly than any other type of cancer, and the impact it takes on men’s lives is significant.
“Men with prostate cancer face a 70 per cent increased risk of suicide death, and 72 per cent of men do not get support for their mental health concerns.
“In response, we’re launching a moon shot for research and awareness in our quest to make prostate cancer history.
“Our aim is to raise over $1.7 million for research and support, by calling on Australians to help us cover the distance to the moon.”
More than 240,000 Australian men have now been diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime – a figure set to increase by 43 per cent by 2040.
“We’ve come a long way – increasing survival rates to 95 per cent, but we will not stop until we defeat prostate cancer,” Ms Savage said.
“We’re asking those who want to join our moon shot in The Long Run to run, walk, wheel or roller skate 72km during September, in solidarity with patients and survivors.”