Neil tells us what it’s like
One of our volunteers, Neil Armstrong, knows what it's like to be a member of a support group, and how to start up your own group.
"I didn’t know anybody who had had prostate problems. Both my doctor and my consultant gave me as much of their scarce time as they could, but that was always after making an appointment and in a clinical setting. As very grateful as I was for their help and advice, I wanted something else, something less formal. I didn't want a consultation, I just wanted a chat - a chat with someone who knew from first-hand experience what it was like to go through what I was facing.
"A short time after my operation, a support group started up in Glasgow, but as I was still working, I couldn’t go to many of their meetings. But I asked to be kept on their mailing list.
"After I retired, one of the group contacted me to ask if I was interested in trying to set up a group in Lanarkshire. As their group was well established, I relied heavily on their experience to get underway.
"We use the Maggie's centre at Monklands General Hospital for our meetings. We were made welcome there from the very start. It is within the hospital grounds and very convenient for people coming out of clinics with bad news to cope with. The staff tell them about the group. We also have the help of the Urology nurses in the hospital who tell patients attending their clinics about the group and several members have come after talking to them.
"Although it took a while for the group to get going, the numbers now regularly attending show that a need is being addressed, and I wonder how such a group could have helped me cope with my diagnosis and treatment 16 years ago. But I do know that those coming to the group seem to get a lot out of it and I get a lot of satisfaction in helping others go through what I have already experienced. Many of our members now only come to offer their support to others, knowing how helpful it was for them.”