TOP TRAINER SHARES EXPERIENCES
FOR PROSTATE CANCER AWARENESS
Greyhound Racing Victoria recently announced its brand new community partnership with the Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia (PCFA). This initiative is close to the heart of a number of greyhound trainers including Paul Anderton who, when approached about featuring in this article, was kind enough to share his personal experiences.
Greyhound trainer Paul Anderton was thrilled when, earlier this year, he learned that GRV had secured a two year community partnership with the PCFA aimed at raising awareness about prostate cancer.
Anderton, 59, was diagnosed with prostate cancer in November 2012. It was news that rocked his world and something that has turned his life on its head.
The Devon Meadows trainer is a strong advocate of GRV’s five year partnership with breast cancer association, the McGrath Foundation, and he believes that a connection between greyhound racing and prostate cancer is just as worthwhile.
“(McGrath Foundation initiative) ‘Go The Pink Dog’ has proven itself to be a great cause, and when I heard that greyhound racing was going to help create awareness about prostate cancer through its partnership with the PCFA, I thought this is absolutely fantastic as well. I know of at least six greyhound trainers who have prostate cancer, and two other people I knew that died recently had it as well. And I’m in no doubt that there would be a hell of a lot more trainers dealing with it that I wouldn’t even be aware of.”
While not one to seek sympathy, Anderton stresses that the symptoms associated with prostate cancer are far greater than many people let on.
“People don’t understand the gravity of something like this unless it happens to them, and it starts from the moment you are told you have it. I consider myself pretty tough, but when the doctor told me I had prostate cancer I crumbled at the knees.”
“Breaking the news to people closest to you, like your wife and your kids, is enough to make tougher men than me break down and cry,” he said.
Anderton, who has trained over 400 winners over the past five years, said he went into damage control when he heard the news of his condition.
“Some people have made derogatory comments that can be very hurtful. I put on a brave face and laugh it off, but deep down comments like that do affect you” – PAUL ANDERTON
“When I was told the news I decided to sell my property and was set to get out of greyhound racing completely. I dropped back to having just two or three race dogs, which my wife virtually trained for me. Then after a couple of months I decided to stay in the sport. I picked myself up and now I have 10 or 12 race dogs in work again and a total of 60 greyhounds on the property, including pups.”
“Training greyhounds has helped me get on with life and I’m having a good run on the track lately. In the last five years I’ve had at least 80-90 winners per year. I had (a personal record) 95 winners last year and I’m on track for a similar number this year.”
“You get down at times but racing greyhounds stops me dropping my bundle. It’s a distraction. I love winning races, it’s one of my main passions and I’ll be doing it for as long as I can,” Anderton said.
While Anderton has managed to push through his condition and get his kennel firing on all cylinders once again (including a career highlight Melbourne Cup appearance with Shifty Sticka last November), some stern words from his doctor earlier this year made him reassess his priorities.
“For 14 months after I found out I had prostate cancer I didn’t do much about it. Then tests revealed that it had got worse and the doctor told me I had to have an immediate biopsy. I said I can’t because I have to race dogs that day. He told me I need to get my priorities right. Needless to say the doctor got his way.”
“I’ve since had my prostate removed and as far as I know my body is now cancer-free. Following the operation I am experiencing some nasty complications which are common, such as impotence and incontinence. It was a choice of putting up with that, or not doing anything about it and possibly dying. Psychologically, it’s devastating, but the sun still comes up for me and I’m grateful for that,” he said.
While many shy away from talking about the symptoms and consequences associated with conditions like prostate cancer, Anderton embraces it and couldn’t be more open when talking about it.
“Some people put their head in the sand about prostate cancer but I’m the opposite. Someone told me I should be speaking at health nights about my experiences because I’m so open about it, and while I understand it is difficult for some people to talk about, the way I see it, if my openness helps one person by creating awareness then I’m rapt.”
“If nobody talks about it then awareness doesn’t happen. I don’t have to hide it and I don’t mind what people ask me about it. Some people have made derogatory comments that can be very hurtful. I put on a brave face and laugh it off, but deep down comments like that do affect you.”
“In saying that, something like this makes you realise that there are a lot of very nice people around. The amount of people that have sympathised with me when they heard news about what I’m going through is very humbling.”
“But it’s not just people with prostate cancer who are doing it tough. The same goes for people with breast cancer and other serious conditions such as depression. That is why whenever I see a fundraiser to help someone in an unfortunate situation, whether they are adults or little kids, I’ll always put my hand in my pocket because I think to myself, what if it was me in that situation…how that would affect me?”
As part of this newfound community partnership, the PCFA logo is set to appear on the blue number four rug in all Victorian greyhound races in the near future, while the state’s 13 greyhound clubs will each host a ‘Big Aussie Barbie’ PCFA fundraiser during September.
WHAT IS PROSTATE CANCER?
Prostate cancer is a form of cancer that develops in the prostate, a gland in the male reproductive system. Most prostate cancers are slow growing, however, there are cases of aggressive prostate cancers. The cancer cells may metastasize (spread) from the prostate to other parts of the body, particularly the bones and lymph nodes. Prostate cancer may cause pain, difficulty in urinating, problems during sexual intercourse, erectile dysfunction, or death. Other symptoms can potentially develop during later stages of the disease.