Blokes dig deep for cancer

Ex-footballer David King, former Saints coach Stan Alves, Herald Sun's Mark Robinson and event chairman Ian Nethercote. photograph hayley mills

Ex-footballer David King, former Saints coach Stan Alves, Herald Sun's Mark Robinson and event chairman Ian Nethercote. photograph hayley mills

Stan Alves' message was clear when he addressed a crowd of 500 men at Kernot Hall on Friday afternoon.

"Prevention is better than cure," Mr Alves, a former Melbourne footballer and St Kilda coach, said at Latrobe's annual Biggest Ever Blokes BBQ.

"It can be challenging for you guys, [to break] the male ego and stereotype of only going to a doctor when you're crook ... challenge yourself and your beliefs, get better and have a medical check up now."

Mr Alves was one of a handful of former and current football greats who addressed the crowd promoting the importance of being aware of prostate disease as men from across the region tucked into a variety of meats, including eye fillet and gourmet rissoles.

"Don't be afraid to reach out to someone, get a check up before it's too late because often men leave it until death's knocking on their door," he said.

It was a recurring message during the sixth annual Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia fundraiser as men were encouraged to be on top of their health and aware of the challenges they may face as they age.

Ex-North Melbourne player David King and Herald Sun chief football writer Mark Robinson spoke for about half an hour on a range of issues - everything from the Mark Thompson drug saga to the uncertainty surrounding Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley's future.

The crowd was also entertained by comedian Marty Fields who shared his humour with the hundreds of men in attendance.

Prostate Foundation of Australia state manager John Strachan said the Latrobe Valley event was an important part of a series of lunches across the state which raised money for research into the disease and support for victims.

"For the size today with a crowd between 400-500 they'll probably raise about $40,000-$50,000 and we use those funds to actually support our prostate cancer nurse in the Latrobe Regional Hospital," Mr Strachan said. "The Biggest Ever Blokes lunch actually funds four regional specialist nurses that the government didn't have the capacity to fund, so for the community to pick up those positions is absolutely fantastic. It also supports men in regional areas."

Latrobe's Biggest Ever Blokes BBQ chairman Ian Nethercote was pleased with the event and said men were more aware of prostate disease than when the event first started six years ago.

"We know from experience and discussion that the level of understanding has increased here in the Latrobe Valley and the number of men that are being tested for PSA levels has increased over that time," Mr Nethercote said.

"[This event] continues to see men and companies and entities within the region being very much aware that this is a disease that needs extra effort and extra money to try and combat and we continue to see that year-on-year."

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