For PA Hospital (PAH) based prostate cancer clinical nurse consultant Ken Burston, a big part of his role is being on-call to offer his advice and knowledge of prostate cancer and urology whenever he is needed.
As well as working in medical oncology, urology, and radiation oncology clinics, Ken keeps a mobile phone handy to answer calls and respond to emails from confused or concerned patients. Drawing on over 30 years of experience gained from working as a nurse in the urology field in three countries, he is a wealth of knowledge and reassurance for patients at the PAH.
"Some patients call me more than others because you see the medical oncology ones more often so you might touch base with them less, I make more calls to the radiation oncology patients and surgical oncology patients, because they have surgery and they spend a few days in the hospital and then they go home," he said.
"It's about the regular follow-ups with them and making sure they are doing ok, it's a different kind of follow-up, similar questions asked to the medical team, you want to know, are they coping emotionally, have they got access to resources, do they need resources or anything like that."
Contracted through the Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia, Ken has worked in New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and in Sydney before his current role, and seen the transformation of prostate cancer treatments and knows research is the key to improving survival rates and outcomes.
"There has been a lot of changes surgical wise, we have the robot, everything used to be done via open surgery, then it changed from open to surgery to laparoscopic (key-hole) to now laparoscopic-assisted with the robot, so shorter lengths of stay in hospital and feeling better when you get out of the hospital," Ken said.
Prostate Cancer Clinical Nurse Consultant at the PAH, Ken Burston
"Newer chemotherapies, targeted chemotherapies, more modern hormones than the old hormone treatments.
"About 36 years ago, when you look at some of the old hormone treatments that they gave then, or doing an orchidectomy, removing the testicles to stop the testosterone, that's all evolved and that's all done through research."
Front of mind for a nurse who has helped thousands of patients in his career, prostate cancer research can not only empower patients with knowledge of different treatments but help patients in years to come.
"Research funding is vitally important because the more research we can do into all aspects of prostate cancer you would hope to lead to even earlier diagnosis, better treatments and longer lifespans and treatments that are well tolerated and that give a high quality of life," he said.
"The ideal would be going forward that everyone that's ever diagnosed, only ever has low-grade prostate cancer so that the goal then would be disease free."With more than 3,300 men succumbing to prostate cancer last year, Ken knows all too well the importance of awareness and fundraising campaigns like the PA Research Foundation's MANDATE men's health initiative.
"Going forward you are looking at research helping the generations to come, research is just so vital if we want to improve the lives of not only men going forward but the families that are associated with the men," he said.
"That's why some families are keen to donate or help in some way because they see the benefit, let's face it if you're in a family and you have young children and they are male, then if you can benefit their long term survival or benefit them if they get the disease going forward then it's well worth it."
To help PA Research Foundation fund vital prostate cancer research donate at www.mandate.org.au/