When Cliff Murphy was diagnosed with prostate cancer two years ago he felt a desire to share his story with others facing similar circumstances.
Murphy wanted to have people to talk to about what he was going through as he worked his way through his treatments. He wanted to learn more about what to expect from people who were going through the same thing. Yet when Murphy started looking around for a support group for men with prostate cancer, he found that none existed in Prince George.
"I had a lot of different concerns," he said. "There were side effects and other issues. Just to have somebody that you could go have a coffee with and talk to, and there wasn't anything like that."
Instead of being able to meet face-to-face with other patients and survivors, he was given phone numbers for people around the province. Although that was helpful, it wasn't the same as being able to interact in person.
Now he's hoping to change that with a new support group in partnership with the Rotary Club of Prince George, the Prostate Cancer Foundation B.C., the Prostate Cancer Canada Network, Canadian Cancer Society and the Big Blue Ball. The group, which is scheduled to meet once a month beginning Jan. 30, is aimed at those diagnosed with the disease, survivors and their partners. The plan is for the group to meet the last Wednesday of every month.
"I'm hoping that it will be a place where people who are diagnosed with prostate cancer or just had treatment can come and discuss their issues and concerns and not have to go elsewhere," Murphy said.
He knows that building the group will take patience. Men are often not very willing to talk about what they're going through, but Murphy said he thinks those diagnosed with prostate cancer will see a value in the group.
"It can be a pretty touchy subject, so people might not open up just like that," he said. "It's going to be a real growing experience."
Support groups exist in other parts of the province and Murphy is planning a trip next month to the Lower Mainland to experience some meetings first hand to get a better understanding on what his role as a facilitator will be. He's also taken a course on life skills coaching from UNBC to refine his leadership skills.
One of the major tenets of the groups is confidentiality, which Murphy said will hopefully make people more comfortable talking about what they're going through.
"I think that gives people a little bit of comfort, knowing that what's said there, stays there," he said.
The precise direction the group will take will depend on the membership and it's likely to evolve over time, but Murphy envisions having guest speakers at some meetings and social events at others. He said in some cases, the men diagnosed might meet in one room and their partners in another room so each can talk about their own issues.
Among the topics Murphy said the group might address through guest speakers is the impact prostate cancer can have on relationships with partners.
"A lot of times people figure that once they're diagnosed with prostate cancer, there goes the love life," he said. "And that's not always the case now."
The idea of creating a support group in Prince George is a year and a half in the making and Murphy is looking forward to see how many people will take advantage of the opportunity. Anyone interested in the group can call 250-562-2825 for more details.