There’s no point denying it, we are about to do some boasting. But then a service that can help a man say the words above when he’s reeling from a prostate cancer diagnosis is surely worth it. And with Movember in full swing, now is a good time to highlight the hairy relationship that last year helped our Specialist Nurses reach more men than ever.
Last year, our Specialist Nurses had their biggest year yet. According to the nurses’ recent annual report, they had over 13,000 contacts from people concerned about prostate cancer or prostate problems in 2016/17. That’s a 40 per cent increase over the last three years.
And funding from The Movember Foundation was a critical part of the story, after a visit to see the nurses in action convinced them to invest heavily in the service.
The service began back in 1996. Housed in a small room in Hammersmith hospital, the telephone-only helpline was run by a single nurse for just one day a week. Now we have 11 Specialist Nurses, soon to be 12, who answer calls, emails and Live Chat requests five days a week with extended hours on a Wednesday evening.
Phone is still the most popular way for people to speak to the nurses, but that's changing rapidly. In 2013/14, the number of people who contacted us by Live Chat and email combined was just over 300. Last year, that figure soared to over 2,300.
This digital shift and other new methods, like call backs and social media, offer an alternative to people who can’t call during the opening hours or are not comfortable talking on the phone. It's one of the biggest changes to the service in recent years and has helped us reach many more men, as well as their family, friends and health professionals.
We're delighted that people reported a marked improvement in their health and wellbeing after contacting us. But most moving is the feedback they gave us about how much it meant to them having someone to talk to and understand them:
John Robertson (pictured above), who has been part of the Specialist Nurse team since 2008, has seen the service evolve and what that’s meant for men.
“In my nine years with the team, I’ve seen a huge growth in the numbers of people contacting us," says John. "With the development of initiatives such as call back and social media we have been able to reach twice as many men and their family members. We have also been able to expand the support offered by developing new initiatives such as our Fatigue Support Service.
“It’s a privilege to have been able to help more men with prostate cancer and this has been made possible by the great work that Movember has done over the years.”
But we're not resting on our laurels. In fact we're already testing new ways of reaching out to people through regular Facebook Live broadcasts with guest speakers, testing more question and answer sessions on social media, as well as more community events and engaging with health professionals at conferences.
However you prefer to get in touch, we're here to support you.