I'm Wayne Swan: Treasurer of Australia and a Cancer Survivor


Hi my name is Wayne Swan and I?m the Treasurer of Australia

My prostate cancer story began with my father, Morrie Swan.He died in 1989 aged 67. His prostate cancer spread to his bones and I watched him die an agonising death.I was 35 when he passed away, and like most men around that age, I got on with things and concentrated on building my career. I didn?t think much about my own vulnerability to prostate cancer.But 12 years later I got a phone call from my doctor, telling me the symptoms I?d been noticing ? the need to go to the toilet more often and feeling run down ? were due to the same disease.

I was very scared, and very worried about how to tell my wife Kim and my three children. When people hear the word ?cancer?, they fear the worst. The doctor gave me three options. I could do nothing. I ruled that out immediately. I could have immediate treatment, which entailed some quite radical surgery and some reasonable risks. Or I could wait a while. This option would have let me get through the 2001 national election, which was due that year. But after seeing what happened to my dad and weighing up all the risks, I knew what I had to do. I chose surgery ? a radical procedure where the entire prostate is removed. I?ve never regretted it. I recovered quickly from surgery, and was able to ease back into politics after just five weeks. I?m now back to normal, but I was lucky. Early detection saved my life and the skill of my surgeon saved the quality of my life.

I won my battle against prostate cancer and I continue to play my part in the global battle against cancer by trying to raise awareness about this deadly disease. With cancer, early detection is the best protection. Men are often ignorant or too embarrassed ? especially when it comes to issues like prostate cancer. We must change that. I was guilty of ignorance myself. Even though I had seen what happened to my own father I never thought it would happen to me.

I had no idea that if your father or brother experience prostate cancer, your chances of getting it triple. I didn?t even know what the symptoms were and I nearly paid the price for that ignorance. That?s why it?s so important for men ? especially if they?re in an at-risk group ? to be informed. Cancer makes you reevaluate your life. It enables you to put the things that really matter into perspective.  As a cancer survivor, you don?t worry so much about the little things that come and go. It teaches you that what is happening tomorrow is much more important than what happened yesterday. It?s also a really powerful reminder of how important family and friends are in our lives and it?s especially good at reinforcing how important it is to continue to do the little things that bring enjoyment and happiness to your life. Whenever I can, I try to play cricket with my son Matty or hit the beach and catch a few waves, but more than anything else ? for me ? it?s made me even more determined to do everything I can to make a difference.

I?m Wayne.

I?m a seven year cancer survivor.




  1. Wayne, you are amazing and I congratulate you! I wonder if you know about Dr. Dean Ornish’s success in slowing/stopping the effects of prostate cancer through diet, exercise, and spiritual renewal? Best known for his work on reduction of cardiac disease, Ornish has applied similar techniques to fight cancer. http://www.pmri.org/research.html
    As a breast cancer patient now completing treatment, I so wish that more of the LiveStrong effort could be devoted to educating patients and their families about the well-documented evidence for the ways in which lifestyle changes can positively influence our health, and in particular, can aid us in our fight against cancer. I hope this information will find its way front and center before long!
    Thanks for listening —

  2. Reece says:

    I just had a look at that website Claire put up and it looks very helpful. I put it in my favorites so I can return to it at any time and read it. Good Luck to you.

  3. David says:

    Wayne just made me even prouder to be an Aussie just then. Thank you for sharing this with us, I now can show my Dad this to inspire him to fight as well.

  4. Graham says:

    How inspiring it is when a well known person makes it known that he or she is a cancer survivor! Thank you, Wayne for sharing your personal battle over two generations with cancer.
    My melanoma was cut out 6 years ago and they say ‘I’m right’ but I have read of other people whose melanomas are more agressive.
    Isn’t Lance just a marvel?

  5. Lesley Hooper says:

    Great to see you are a cancer survivor. But I wonder how you would have faired in 5 years time with the cuts to medical research your government is talking of making?

  6. Carolyn says:

    I cannot believe that Wayne Swan can be so hypocritical! He survived due to MEDICAL RESEARCH and now his government is going to cut funding and reduce the chances of anybody else in Australia receiving new treatments or perhaps being cured from their own diseases!!!! If you’re going to live STRONG Wayne, stand up and do what’s right – maintain medical research funding in the next Federal Budget.

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