Supporting Your Loved One in His Journey With Prostate Cancer
If someone you love has been diagnosed with prostate cancer, you probably have many
questions about what is best course of treatment and how to best support him in
his fight against the disease. Here are some suggestions and resources to empower
you to be a positive and active participant in his journey with cancer.
Learn as much as you can about prostate cancer.
Since prostate cancer differs greatly from one person to another, it is important
to educate yourself and your loved one about the disease. The information on this
website, and selected others, will help you to ensure that
treatment decisions are well informed and best suited to your loved one’s
Actively communicate and show that you care.
A diagnosis of prostate cancer is often unexpected and therefore can come as a shock.
Now is the time to be understanding and patient – especially because men,
in general, are less likely to discuss their health concerns and fears. Let your
loved one know that you are available to talk, listen, and share concerns. At the
same time, don’t demand that he talk about his feelings if he is reluctant
to do so.
Encourage him to take an active role in selecting his treatment.
There are many prostate cancer treatment options, and many of them are associated
with serious side effects. Your loved one may be tempted to rush his treatment decision
out of a desire to remove the cancer thinking that there are no other options, but
this may not be necessary. It is important to encourage your loved one to
learn about his options and to understand that his treatment decision should be
as informed as possible and that it should be made on his terms. One tool that can
help him to more accurately assess the risk of his cancer is the Oncotype DX prostate cancer test,
which looks at the genes within his individual tumor.
Help him to consider active surveillance if he has low-risk prostate cancer.
If your loved one has early-stage, localized, low or very low-risk prostate cancer,
he can consider regular, careful monitoring instead of immediate, invasive treatment.
In this way he can delay, or avoid altogether, the life-altering side effects of
many prostate cancer treatments.
Be part of his treatment.
Go with him to doctor’s appointments and tests, if he is open to the idea.
Take notes during the appointments so that you don’t miss any important information
or advice. Find out what the available treatment options are, and look at the pros
and cons of each. Ask questions and get a second opinion. Once a course of care
has been decided, help your loved one follow it as closely as possible.
Seek outside help from a support group.
You may find it helpful to talk with others who are facing the same challenges and
experiences. Resources for finding local support groups, as well as online discussion
groups, are listed below. Although prostate cancer exacts a high emotional toll,
you can find information online to help you cope with issues such as sexual
dysfunction, urinary incontinence and anxiety about the future.
Take care of yourself.
In order to take care of your loved one, you need to first take care of yourself.
Make sure you maintain a healthy lifestyle, including getting enough sleep, exercise,
and good nutrition. Talking to friends can help you emotionally, and you may want
to look into yoga or meditation to help you relax.
One-on-One Support for Patients and Caregivers
Find a Local Support Group
Online Support Groups