Geoff Phillips to lead 2017 Wollongong Relay for Life

Launch: Wollongong Relay for Life chairman Stuart Barnes, participant Avah Bower and patron, newsreader Geoff Phillips, at Beaton Park to launch the 2017 event. Little Avah has taken part with her mother Tehla, a former Cancer Council employee, since she was five months old to support the cause. Picture: Robert Peet
Launch: Wollongong Relay for Life chairman Stuart Barnes, participant Avah Bower and patron, newsreader Geoff Phillips, at Beaton Park to launch the 2017 event. Little Avah has taken part with her mother Tehla, a former Cancer Council employee, since she was five months old to support the cause. Picture: Robert Peet

Eight years ago Wollongong newsreader Geoff Phillips received the diagnosis everyone dreads – and too many continue to receive.

‘’When someone tells you you’ve got the ‘big C’ you think it’s a death sentence – but it doesn’t have to be,’’ he said. ‘’When I was diagnosed with prostate cancer it took the wind out of my sails, it totally flattened me.

‘’But with the support of my family, the Cancer Council, and hospital staff, I got through it and am now happy to report that I’m cancer free.’’

The WIN TV presenter’s personal battle makes him the perfect fit as the patron for this year’s Wollongong Relay for Life.

On Thursday he spoke of his experience at the official launch of the event at Beaton Park, which will be the venue for the 24-hour event on September 16 and 17.

‘’I had no symptoms, I’d only visited my GP because I was going overseas and wanted some sleeping tablets for the flight,’’ Mr Phillips said.

‘’He suggested a blood test which revealed that my PSA (prostrate-specific antigen) levels were high.

‘’I went on the trip and by the time I got back three weeks later those levels had almost doubled to 5.5.’’

The father-of-two was given two choices – radical surgery or radiation. 

‘’I spoke to a prostate nurse from the Cancer Council who talked me through it and due to the fact I have coeliac disease, the best option was surgery,’’ he said. ‘’Fortunately they got it all before it spread and my blood tests have shown levels below 0.1 for the last eight years.’’

Wollongong Relay for Life chairman Stuart Barnes said after a dip in participation in recent years, organisers were hoping the community would get behind the 2017 event.

‘’This year Relay has been extended to involve people who want to participate over a shorter period, plus they don’t have to be part of a team – they can take part as an individual or a couple.

‘’There’ll also be plenty of entertainment – this year it’s all about fun and flexibility.’’

Cancer Council NSW spokesman Grant Plecas said now its 17th year, the event had raised over $3 million for local cancer services. Details: www.relayforlife.com.au