The Prostate Cancer Information Group has provided area men and their families with information, support, and fellowship since December of 1999. Although Piedmont Fayette Hospital existed at the time of the group’s inception (known as Fayette Community Hospital) it did not offer oncology services at the time. The group moved their monthly meeting to Piedmont Fayette in 2008 and now meets in The Thomas F. Chapman Family Cancer Wellness Center on the fourth Tuesday of the month.
“Each meeting is a mix of men (and some spouses) who have been newly diagnosed with prostate cancer, are still going through treatment, or who have completed treatment but share a passion for the mission of helping people,” said Jim O’Hara, the group’s founder. “We also bring in guest speakers, many times physicians or oncologists from the hospital, and we share what we know and provide some answers to common questions.”
The Prostate Cancer Information Group became affiliated with Us TOO International in 2009. Us TOO is a nonprofit that serves the prostate cancer community by providing educational materials and resources at no charge. O’Hara estimates that more than 300 men and 100-plus partners or caregivers have attended the meetings over the years. He was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 1996 and has seen a lot of changes in how the disease is detected and treated.
“It can be caught much earlier now and the treatment can be more refined,” O’Hara said. “The external radiation can be more direct on certain areas and there are also seed implants that can provide a lower dose of radiation that produces much fewer side effects.”
O’Hara added that sometimes the prostate cancer is growing so slowly, that some oncologists advocate for active surveillance over treatment. The difference in treatment over the years makes for a good cross-section of discussion at the meetings and each attendee has something different to offer the group. At the recent celebration, several physicians from Piedmont Fayette spoke, as well as members of the comprehensive cancer team and hospital leadership. All were effusive in their praise for the work the group has done in helping and supporting their fellow men.
“I tell men who have been diagnosed with prostate cancer about Jim’s group,” said Jonathan Bender, M.D., an oncologist with Piedmont Cancer Institute at Piedmont Fayette. “Some men think this is a support group and feel they don’t need it. This group is about information. It has a lot of men in the same situation that can answer your questions. Jim and the other members have provided a valuable service for 20 years and are an excellent resource.”
At the 20th anniversary celebration, O’Hara asked the guests to talk about what good has happened to them since their prostate cancer diagnosis. For O’Hara, the answer was simple.
“Since my diagnosis, I retired from a stressful job and dedicated my life to supporting other men with prostate cancer,” O’Hara said. “It gave me a great sense of reward and allowed me the time to spoil my grandkids.”
Leaders and staff members from Piedmont Fayette were on hand to thank the members of the Prostate Cancer Information Group for all they have done for the community.
“Piedmont’s purpose is to make a positive difference in every life we touch and this group is a tremendous example of that purpose,” said Steve Porter, CEO of Piedmont Fayette Hospital. “We’re incredibly proud to partner with this group and support their goal of raising awareness and providing valuable information to people during a challenging time in their lives.”
The Prostate Cancer Information Group meets on the fourth Tuesday of every month (except December) in the Thomas F. Chapman Family Cancer Wellness Center at 7 p.m. Contact Jim O’Hara at email@example.com for more information.
For more information on oncology services at Piedmont, visit piedmont.org/cancer.