A SELF help group for prostate cancer patients is going from strength to strength.

And now it is setting up its own helpline to support others who have also been diagnosed.

It all began 18 months ago when prostate cancer patients were invited to a meeting to discuss information which should be given to patients on diagnosis. It had been called by Macmillan community specialist prostate support nurse Nikki Scarlioli and Beryl Thorpe and Merveene Stockbridge, clinical urology sisters from Oak Unit.

After the discussion, people started exchanging experiences on their post-operative lives and swapping hints and ideas. It was proving so useful it was suggested a self-help group be formed, and ProActive was born.

Group member John Woods said: “Without Nikki, Beryl, Merveene and other PCT staff who have been so helpful to us, ProActive would never have got off the ground. We began meeting at St Margaret’s Hospital every month on Fridays from 1pm until 3pm with about eight members. Through publicity at Oak Unit, other clinics, surgeries, libraries, supermarkets and anywhere else we could place a poster, we grew slowly but steadily.

“Last autumn, we held a ‘Life After Prostate Cancer’ afternoon, with four speakers on the latest research in prostate cancer; bowel and bladder continence; sex life after prostate cancer; and on diet and the prostate. It drew an audience of 70 patients, partners and health professionals, and our membership grew to 30, of whom 17 with some partners, now regularly attend our informal meetings.”

He added: “We soon began receiving phone calls from patients and realised we needed to set up a proper telephone support service. A dozen of us have just attended a Macmillan workshop on Listening and Responding on how to deal with calls in a proper manner and we can be contacted on 0774 737 4692.”

The second Life After Prostate Cancer afternoon is bat St Margaret’s Hospital from 1pm to 3pm on Friday, October 10, with reports on the latest research, post-operative experience and other prostate-related topics.

Places are limited. Ring 0774 737 4692 or e-mail proactivegroup@ntlworld.com to book a seat. Partners are welcome.

The group is requesting a donation of £2 per head to help with expenses.

For more information, ring the ProActive helpline on 0774 737 4692.