Support Metastatic Prostate Cancer
Getting diagnosed with cancer has a great impact on your life and the lives of your loved ones. Cancer can make you feel powerless. It can cause feelings of anxiety, anger, fear, or even depression. Undergoing treatment for cancer is intense and will affect your work, your social life and your sexuality.
To find support, approach your doctor or nurse in the hospital, or ask your family doctor. They will be able to give you contact information about patient organizations or others who can help you with psychological support, or practical matters such as financial and legal advice.
Preparing for a consultation
Preparing for a consultation can be very useful. It will help you and your doctor better address your questions and concerns. It can also help you prepare for treatment and the possible side effects. Here are some things you can try:
- Write down the questions you would like to ask the doctor. This will help you remember things that you want to ask. Writing down questions can also help you organize your thoughts
- If you can, take someone with you to the visit. It is good to have someone to discuss what the doctor said and you probably remember different things
- Ask for information about your specific type of prostate cancer
- If the doctor uses words you do not understand, ask for an explanation
- Tell your doctor what medicine you take and if you take any alternative medicine. Some of these medicines can affect the treatment
After the consultation you can:
- Search the Internet or go to the library for more information about your type of cancer. Be aware that not all the information you see online is of good quality. Your doctor or health care team can point you to reliable websites
- Contact a patient organization, they can offer support and information
- Discuss with your health care team the possible financial consequences of your treatment. They might be able to direct you to people or places where you can get advice about your economic situation or even financial help
- If you want, you should ask for a second opinion from another specialist
How to find a patient organization nearby
Patient organizations can be very helpful. To find one close to you, ask your family doctor, nurse, or doctor at the hospital. You can also search the Internet for a patient group.
Support during hormonal therapy
All types of hormonal therapy cause castration, to which your body can react in various ways. The most common side effect of castration is hot flushes. To manage this, your doctor will advise you to monitor your weight and avoid alcoholic drinks. If you experience hot flushes, you can:
- Dress in layers
- Wear natural fabrics like cotton or linen, which let the body breathe
- Sleep under layers of light blankets so that you can remove some if you need to
- Avoid hot baths, saunas, or whirlpools
- Avoid hot or spicy food
- Drink plenty of water, and carry a bottle with you when you leave the house
Discuss with your doctor possible treatments to manage hot flushes or any of the other consequences of castration and side effects of hormonal therapy.
It is important to maintain a healthy lifestyle during treatment. Try to get physical exercise regularly. Find an activity that you enjoy doing. If you have doubts about what you can do, ask your doctor to refer you to a physiotherapist.
Try to eat a balanced diet with a mix of vegetables, fruit and dairy. Also include starchy food like bread and potatoes, rice or pasta, and protein-rich food like meat, fish, eggs, or legumes. Try to eat less sugar, salt, and fatty food. If you have any questions, ask your doctor to refer you to a dietician.
During treatment you may worry about your prognosis, the impact of cancer on your social or financial situation, or other issues.
If you feel the need to have someone to talk to, you can ask your doctor for a referral to a psychologist. A patient organization can also offer support.
Discuss the possible financial consequences of your treatment with your health care team. They might be able to direct you to people or places where you can get advice about your economic situation or even financial help. They can also help you find legal advice about your will and related matters.
Changes in your daily life as a result of the disease or the treatment can lead to isolation. Talk to your doctor or nurse. They can help you find the support and treatment you need.
A cancer diagnosis can make you look at life in a different way and you may realize you now have different priorities. This will affect your work or relationships and can make you feel disoriented and uncertain. Talk to family, friends, or your spiritual advisor about your feelings and wishes. If you do not feel comfortable addressing these issues with those close to you, you can ask your health care team for a referral to a psychologist. The psychologist can give you the tools to deal with these feelings.
Cancer treatment can affect your sexuality. Feelings of depression and fatigue can also have a negative effect on your sex life. It is important that you talk to your partner about your feelings. There are many ways in which you can be intimate. If it is difficult to be sexually active, be near each other, touch each other, give and take hugs, and just sit or lay down close to each other.
Support for family and friends
A cancer diagnosis not only affects the patient, but also the people around them. As a loved one, you can offer support in many different ways. Sometimes you can help with practical things like laundry, gardening, or grocery shopping.
It may also be helpful to go to the doctor together. You could offer to drive to the visit or help formulate questions to ask during consultation. Being there for the consult can also be good. You may remember different things or focus on other details, which you can later discuss together. You could also ask the doctor how the treatment may impact your lives in terms of caregiving and psychological effects.
The diagnosis and treatment can be very emotional for everybody involved. Cancer treatment is intense and your life may change suddenly. Questions about prognosis, effects of the treatment, and death will come up. As a friend or loved one you can be there and listen. You don’t need to have the answers.
If you feel you need somebody to talk to, approach your family doctor or the medical team to get support. Patient organizations also offer support for family members or friends of people who have been diagnosed with cancer.
Support for partners
A cancer diagnosis can put pressure on your relationship. Often talking to each other becomes more difficult because of the time and energy spent on treatment. You could decide to discuss any difficulties with a therapist.
You may experience a similar degree of stress, anger, and depression as your partner. You could feel exhausted, both physically and emotionally. This can be a result of the responsibilities of caring for your partner, and taking on extra tasks around the house. Be sure to make time for yourself and think about your own needs and wishes.
Your partner’s cancer treatment can affect your sex life. Try to talk to your partner about your feelings. There are many ways in which you can be intimate. Be near each other, touch each other, give and take hugs, and just sit or lay down close to each other.
It is normal to worry about being left alone. If you feel you need somebody to talk to, approach your family doctor or your spiritual advisor. Patient organizations also offer support for partners. They can also help you find people or organizations who can help you with practical things like legal and financial issues.