What would make a bloke decide to drive a 1915 Willys Overland around Australia, talking to other blokes about looking after their health? The photo below says it all, “for my boys,and every other proud fathers sons”.
My name is Carl Neilsen, in December 2008 at age 40; I was diagnosed with prostate cancer. At the time of my diagnosis, the younger of our two sons, Alexander was eight weeks old, and our eldest son Oscar, was one and a half years old. I received a phone call on a Saturday morning from my Urologist Dr Peter Heathcote, who had performed a biopsy on my Prostate the week prior. Peter informed me that I had cancer, and a significant cancer at that, he asked me to come in early the following week to talk through my options.
I then, had to do the hardest thing I have ever done in my life, I had to go down stairs and tell my beautiful wife Rachel, (who at the time was breast feeding our eight week old baby Alexander) that I had cancer. The emotion I felt at the time was beyond description, I had to stay composed and be positive. I did me best.
My immediate thought after the news was “how will I make sure my family is O.K, Secondly I thought “what the hell is a prostate gland”?
The weeks following my diagnosis, I set about getting all I could in place for my family, my will, Legal’s, life insurance policies, etc. I also had researched as much as I could regarding prostate cancer and the multiple modes of treatment. Dr Heathcote (Peter) offered great advice and helped me make the decision to undergo a radical prostatectomy, my view was “if we remove the prostate, I have the best chance at a cure”. There are many side effects with surgery and with the nature of what I was facing, the idea of living with incontinence and or impotence had no meaning. My primary goal was looking after my family, and doing what ever I could to beat this disease. I new things would be tough, and was prepared for what ever happened.
With my diagnosis and complete lack of knowledge of what a prostate gland was, I started to think about other blokes in similar positions, and realised, I was far from alone in my ignorant state of bliss relating to my own health. I started to talk with other blokes about men’s health, and was shocked at how poorly informed we are relating to the most basic health issues.
I decided I wanted to do something to get other bloke looking after their health, so they would be around to look after their own families.
At the end of March 2009 I underwent surgery, a five hour procedure to remove my prostate, the procedure known as a retro pubic radical prostatectomy. The operation went well, and I spent five days in the P.A Hospital after surgery, my recovery was painful and slow, but I was on the mend. Shortly after surgery I had dinner with friends Lang and Bev Kidby at our monthly Fiat Car Club meeting, I told Lang and Bev that I wanted to travel around Australia with a vintage vehicle talking to men about their health, in an attempt to get blokes to look after their health plus raise funds for Prostate cancer research. I asked Lang and Bev how I should I go about the trip, as Lang and Bev had such incredible expedition experience. The following day, Lang called and said he and Bev had talked through the idea of the trip and thought it was an excellent cause, and would like to be involved; Lang also said he had the ideal machine. I went to Lang and Bev’s and had a look at the car, a 1915 Willys Overland in need of a full restoration and talked through the rough plan. The next day Lang, Bev and I started work on the restoration of the Overland and planning the expedition.
Lang and I have since been involved with the Cancer council of Queensland, they are very excited about our expedition and our aim to improve men’s health plus raise funds for prostate cancer research. The Cancer Council provides the most wonderful support for people and families effected by cancer, and also provide extensive training for Oncology Nurses and associated health workers. We have had the privilege of sitting in on a week long Oncology nurse training seminar with a select group of the States top Oncology nurses. The education Lang and I received from sitting in on the course was amasing and will serve well for our cause, plus we have had the honor of meeting so many fantastic people associated with all manner of cancer care. Oncology nurses have a very tough job and I think they are the backbone of any cancer sufferer’s experience. Both Lang and I will be looking forward to again meeting with the group of nurses and doctors that helped give us a broad view of oncology care.
Being a father with two sons, and having gone through prostate cancer, I am driven to make sure I teach my boys to live well. My aim is to help raise funds to find a cure for prostate cancer, so my sons and any other father’s sons don’t have to suffer from this disease in the future.
Blokes are like cars, we require good fuel, clean air, rest and servicing, if we don’t get these basic requirements, we will breakdown. Our families need us to be strong, healthy and most importantly, just to be there. Keep happy and healthy and we will see you on our travels