What are some ways that friends and family can support a loved one who has been diagnosed with prostate cancer? The support and love of those close to a man with prostate cancer are extremely important.
Four More Important Tips
1. Go to the doctor or other healthcare appointments with your loved one. One of the most nerve-wracking, stressful and simply exhausting aspects of dealing with cancer, including prostate cancer, is attending the various appointments and other visits that must be made. From initial consultations with primary care doctors, medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, urologists and any number of other doctors, to meetings with nutritionists, social workers, psychologists and others, to radiation therapy or pre-surgery appointments – there are many things to keep track of and many appointments to attend.
Having a friend or family member along for some or all of these appointments can be a source of great comfort and can take the edge off of the experience. Not all men may want company to their appointments and some men may want company sometimes and not others. Regardless, offering to accompany will convey the idea that you care.
2. Be able to have fun with your loved one. While the diagnosis, treatment and follow-up of prostate cancer are undoubtedly unpleasant experiences for all involved, there are still experiences and circumstances that can lend themselves to having fun. Fun should not end with a prostate cancer diagnosis though the man affected by the disease may feel that that is the case. It is important for those close to him to be willing and able to rekindle some appreciation for fun and humor. These are important aspects of normal human life and should not be avoided in order to focus on "the important stuff" – testing for and treating prostate cancer.
3. Give them space when they need it. While many men may want to talk about their prostate cancer and all aspects of their lives that relate to this, overall this is probably the rare occurrence. Most men will want to talk about their prostate cancer sometimes and not at others. Some men may want to hardly ever discuss it (if at all).
While completely avoiding discussing prostate cancer is almost never a good idea, there are times when men need to be given their space and time to be alone with their thoughts about prostate cancer and the rest of their lives. Most men need to process their emotions and thoughts in private, as well as by talking to their loved ones.
Being respectful of a man’s private time is an important way that family and friends can help the emotional healing process to proceed.
4. Find important information for your loved one. One of the most overwhelming parts of a new prostate cancer diagnosis can be the sheer amount of information that one absorbs in a short amount of time. Most men and their families are not intimately knowledgeable about the details of a prostate cancer diagnosis or treatment, among other things. Because of this, the deluge of information that is presented at the first appointments can overwhelm many men and their families.
Having a loved one who is able to at least attempt to organize and condense this information into a usable form can be extremely beneficial.
In addition to synthesizing the information that you get from your doctors and other healthcare team members can be daunting enough, but often this information is not all that you need (or feel you need) to make an educated decision about treatment options or any other aspect of your prostate cancer care. Often, you will need to seek out more information from other healthcare professionals, online resources, books and magazines, or from trusted friends and family members. Helping your loved one find this information and get it into a usable, condensed format can be extremely helpful.