Beating cancer is an awesome feat, although for many, something never completely vanquished. In recent times, due to groundbreaking research and effort to increase awareness of early stage symptoms, more people than ever before are able to overcome their own personal battle with the insidious disease.
It’s a fearsome foe that never seems to give ground. It’s this that led Ross Alexander, midway through his own three-year battle with prostate cancer, to set up an Australian outback 4WD rally to raise money to fund even more research, so that, ultimately, fewer people succumb.
“The rally is all about helping people understand more about prostate cancer,” Ross says.
“Helping people learn more about this form of cancer is what we’re all about as we drive from town to town deep in the Australian outback. Of course, we have a lot of fun too — that’s the bonus.”
The Rally began in 2018, so the 2020 event will make it three years running. Ross tells Camper many stories about fun, camaraderie among Rally peers, and epic discoveries that travelling overland through regional Australia can reveal. Underpinning everything, though, are the arresting facts that define prostate cancer in Australia.
“More than 3000 Australian men a year die from prostate cancer,” Ross says, quietly. “That works out to about nine per day.
“More than 20,000 Australian men a year receive a new diagnosis, which works out to 54 per day. What makes the condition so insidious is that in the early stages of prostate cancer there may be no symptoms.
“One in seven blokes will be affected by prostate cancer. Encouragingly, around 92 per cent of men will be alive five years after a diagnosis of prostate cancer. This is still too many and we want to drastically improve the five-year-after-diagnosis statistic, but all these positive results so far are largely the result of intensive medical research.
“This year, we are bringing a specialist prostate cancer nurse with us on the Rally and we hope to conduct many information sessions along the way. Any interested local or person passing through is welcome to attend.”
The 2020 Rally, like any event that involves crossing state borders, has taken on a more complicated dimension than anticipated. Ross is about to embark on a pre-rally survey trip and will be updating the event website with news as it comes to hand.
As we go to print, there will be 20 vehicles participating in the Rally. Ross and his fellow organisers are conscious of the fact that this year, not only are they raising money and awareness for and about prostate cancer, they are also helping to bring much-needed tourism activity to the townships along the route.
“We’re very happy to lend any support we can,” Ross says. “At the end of the day we need somewhere to sleep, somewhere to fuel up and replenish supplies. If, at the end of the day, we can help boost morale or even simply demonstrate just by being there that there is light at the end of the tunnel, well that’s an added bonus.”
Ross hopes that 4WD identity, Rod ‘The Vintage Adventurer’ Wade, will be joining them in a 1930s A-Model Ford. “That’ll bring a bit of celebrity colour to things,” Ross says with a chuckle.
For the latest updates, details on how to donate and other news, please check out: prostatecancerrally.com.au
Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia (PCFA) is a broad-based community organisation and the peak national body for prostate cancer research in Australia. The Foundation is dedicated to reducing the impact of prostate cancer on Australian men, their partners and families. Their 2020 Rally starts in Bourke on Sunday, 23 August, and concludes in the Barossa on 29 August.
DAY 1: SUNDAY, 23 AUGUST
Bourke to Tibooburra: Wanaaring – The Cut Line – Tibooburra
DAY 2: MONDAY, 24 AUGUST
Tibooburra to Innamincka: Sturt National Park – Cameron Corner – Innamincka
DAY 3: TUESDAY, 25 AUGUST
Innamincka to Birdsville: Via Cordillo Downs or Walkers Crossing
DAY 4: WEDNESDAY, 26 AUGUST
Birdsville: Simpson Desert – Big Red
DAY 5: THURSDAY, 27 AUGUST
Birdsville to Marree: Mungerannie – Birdsville Track
DAY 6: FRIDAY, 28 AUGUST
Marree to Wilpena: Witchelina – Farina – Parachilna – Flinders Ranges National Park – Wilpena
DAY 7: SATURDAY, 29 AUGUST
Wilpena to Barossa: Peterborough – Barossa Valley