FORMER NSW premier Nick Greiner has spoken of the moment he knew something was seriously wrong with his health.
“My PA (personal assistant) came in and said ‘your GP wants you to come in and see her’ and I thought, well if it was nothing she could probably tell me on the phone … so I started to get the idea that this might not be such a good experience,” he said.
He went to see his doctor.
“I said alright, what is it. And she said, ‘oh, it’s breast cancer’,” he said.
“I was completely stunned because I had no idea that men got breast cancer. Absolutely none.”
Mr Greiner shared his story about being diagnosed with, and overcoming, breast cancer during a fundraising breakfast for breast cancer nurses at Wests New Lambton on Thursday.
“It’s just human nature to have a sense of why me, what a bugger, it’s not fair,” the 71-year-old said of his diagnosis five years ago.
“And I think that it struck me, … and I got emotional about it, when I was all alone in a plane in the middle of the night, because you do have a sense of aloneness. It’s sort of a scary feeling, it’s emotionally scary.
“It’s the sense of unfairness, which I think is just a natural human response.”
Currently 140 men and more than 18,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer every year.
More than 320 people attended the PKF Breast Care Fundraising Breakfast on Thursday, sponsored by the Newcastle Herald and Wests, and raised $20,000 to support breast cancer nurses in the region.
For Mr Greiner, who has also battled unrelated prostate and bladder cancer, the knowledge and support of health professionals, and being open about his conditions, helped get him through.
“What few words of advice I can give is that I do think being willing to use the available care is important,” he said.
“Use the care that’s available and do try to just talk to your friends about it.
“They will mostly be willing, helpful, at least (they were) in my case.
“It really helped me to diminish that sense of … frustration and why me, by just making it like I’ve got a cold. Of course it’s much more serious … but it made me feel better to actually talk about it and not have it all bunched up inside of me.”
PKF’s Jorja Cowan said the event had raised more than $233,000 over the past 12 years for “training and professional development for our specialist breast care nurses”.
“I am so very proud to be part of PKF and such an amazing and generous community,” she said.