League legend gets set for The Long Run

Australian men and women whose lives have been impacted by prostate cancer are being urged to take part in a new nationwide community event for Prostate Cancer Awareness Month.

Former NRL legend, David Shillington, will lend his voice to the campaign.

Known as The Long Run, the event invites people to walk, run, or wheel 72km throughout September, harnessing an interactive online platform to track activity levels.

The aim is to raise awareness of the harmful impacts caused by one of Australia’s most common cancers.

  • Prostate cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in Australian men and the second most commonly diagnosed cancer overall, with about 16,700 men diagnosed each year.
  • Tragically, more than 3100 Australian men will die of the disease this year, leaving families and communities in grief.
  • While prostate cancer has one of the highest cancer survival rates, the lifelong impacts of treatment can be devastating for many men, including incontinence, erectile dysfunction, and weight gain caused by hormonal therapy.
  • Men impacted by prostate cancer also experience a 70 per cent increased risk of suicide.
  • Commonwealth Department of Health data has found while men account for three-quarters of deaths from suicide in Australia, an estimated 72% of males don’t seek help for mental disorders.

David Shillington knows what it’s like, in more ways than one, to be up against the odds.

At just 37 year of age he has 215 National Rugby League games under his belt, 14 tests for Australia, four games for the Prime Minister’s XIII, eight for his home state of Queensland, and two NRL All Star matches.

Retiring due to injury in 2016, he was forced to find a new purpose, and is now giving back to the community who gave him so much to be thankful for through his football career.

“I thought whatever job I choose, I can’t just do something that doesn’t have purpose.”

It’s a motto he lives by, and a mindset that has inspired him to establish Head Trainer, an individual and corporate coaching practice using sport to start mental health conversations in the community.  

Shillington has also signed on as an Ambassador for The Long Run.

“My grandfather and uncle have both had prostate cancer, and my dad recently had a scare, so there’s a high chance I’ll be hit too.

“I want to help my family prepare for it, and aligning my Head Trainer work with The Long Run seemed like a good opportunity to take action towards developing a better game plan for all Australian men and their families.

“As humans, especially in sport, we work so hard on our physical ability – we want to run faster and longer, we want to lift heavier and more powerfully, we want to have a six pack and big biceps, but often we overlook what’s most important,” David says.

“That’s learning to appreciate things, supporting our loved ones, giving back, and reaching out when we’re hurting. I’m in The Long Run for my family and for our community.”

“I’m looking forward to taking on 72km this September to help inspire action and awareness.

“Every kilometre I cover will bring us closer to a world where prostate cancer can be effectively treated, where side effects can be overcome, and where all men have access to life-saving care and support.

“All of us know someone who has been impacted by prostate cancer. I’m taking part to make a difference in The Long Run, for all men and families like mine.”

By 2040 it is predicted there will be 372,000 men living with or beyond prostate cancer in Australia, representing a 76 per cent increase and the greatest number of men or women diagnosed with any single cancer.

“Of concern to the growing burden of prostate cancer on the Australian community, men with a family history of prostate cancer have double the risk of being diagnosed, and men in regional and rural areas of Australia face a 24 per cent higher risk of death – investment in awareness is vital to ensure our fathers, sons, and brothers don’t die before their time,” Prof Dunn said.

Australia has one of the highest rates of prostate cancer in the world, with one in every six Australian men likely to be diagnosed by age 85.

About 70 per cent of Australians don’t know the signs and symptoms, with adverse impacts on early detection and survival outcomes.

To get involved in the campaign, go to www.thelongrun.org.au and follow David’s work via https://headtrainer.com.au/.