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You could hear a pin drop! Parliamentary Luncheon 14 February 2017

Nev Black

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Picture: Warren Entsch and Jason Clare give Jim their rapt attention.


Hon. Warren Entsch, MP, is co-chair of the Parliamentary Friends of Prostate Cancer Awareness (with Hon. Jason Clare, MP). He was speaking after a speech by our Convenor, Jim Marshall, in the Senate Annexe of Parliament House in Canberra.


Warren was clearly moved by the speech. Amongst several kind things he said about Jim and the speech was something like:

"As Jim spoke there was not another sound in the room. You could hear a pin drop! I don't remember such a silence in this place before!"


Jim followed the two other invited speakers, medical oncologist Dr Carmel Pezaro, and prostate cancer specialist nurse, Sally Sara. 


Jim spoke about living with advanced prostate cancer, and the need for improved access to new treatments.


Starting with a little humour about all the "Jims", Jim then rapidly made the air more serious. He stated that a a key concern for many of the 3,300 men who will die of prostate cancer this year, especially in their last years and months, is freedom from pain, sickness and other effects of their disease and treatment - in short - quality of life.


Jim then used the example of Enzalutamide to explain to the assembled MPs two things they need to understand the decisions they need to make. 


First they should know about the total benefit of a drug - not just how much extra life it gives. The extra months and years it gives of quality life - delaying harsh chemotherapy, delaying the advance of pain - are probably more important to men and their families.


Secondly Jim explained that when their expert advisers give a number for the "average" or "median" result they should say to themselves "Half of the men will get more than this! Some will get lots more!" 


Both the co-chairs (MPs Warren Entsch and Jason Clare) declared themselves inspired by the speech, and determined to take action. When I spoke to MPs  after the speech, it was clear they were clear about what they could do, and were determined to make it happen.


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