September marks Prostate Cancer Awareness Month, a campaign designed to educate people about prostate cancer. At Comprehensive Urology, we strive to educate patients and their loved ones about prostate cancer. As part of our commitment to Prostate Cancer Awareness Month, we want to teach people how they can support family members, friends, and colleagues dealing with this diagnosis.
Let’s take a look at four ways to support someone with prostate cancer.
Learn About Prostate Cancer
Knowledge is power, especially when it comes to prostate cancer. Thus, the more a person learns about prostate cancer, the more he or she can support a prostate cancer patient.
An online search often provides a great starting point to locate prostate cancer resources from globally recognized medical experts and organizations. These resources are generally available free of charge and provide in-depth insights into all aspects of prostate cancer.
There is no shortage of free online prostate cancer resources. Some of the best online prostate cancer resources include:
- CancerCare: Provides prostate cancer treatment information, along with free, professional support services for prostate cancer patients and their loved ones.
- American Cancer Society (ACS): Provides a prostate cancer overview, insights into prostate cancer treatment options and their possible side effects, and information about what to expect after prostate cancer treatment.
- National Cancer Institute: Provides prostate cancer research and statistics, as well as insights into common issues and concerns that arise after a person receives a prostate cancer diagnosis.
- Our website: Provides a lot of information relating to treatment, especially new innovative options like HIFU (high intensity focused ultrasound).
Prostate cancer is complex. As such, it usually helps to have a basic understanding before you review any of the aforementioned online resources. To better understand prostate cancer, let’s examine some top-level information regarding the condition, its severity, and its prevalence.
Prostate cancer is the most common type of cancer in men, according to ACS. Approximately one in nine men will receive a prostate cancer diagnosis in his lifetime, ACS notes. Yet some men ignore prostate cancer and the dangers associated with it. Meanwhile, failure to diagnose and treat prostate cancer in its early stages may cause painful urination, blood in the urine or semen, lower back pain, and other health problems.
Prostate cancer begins as adenocarcinoma, a type of cancer that develops in the body’s mucus-secreting glands. It is a slow, progressive disease and may be more difficult to detect than other forms of cancer. However, in some instances, prostate cancer grows and spreads quickly throughout the body.
There are four risk factors associated with prostate cancer:
- Age: Prostate cancer may occur at any age, but it is rare in men under the age of 40. According to ACS, the average age of men at the time of a prostate cancer diagnosis is about 66.
- Genes: Men with a family history of prostate cancer tend to be more prone to prostate cancer than others.
- Ethnicity: Research indicates African-American men are more susceptible to prostate cancer than all other ethnic groups.
- Diet: Exposure to various agricultural pesticides in foods may increase the risk of prostate cancer. Additionally, studies have shown diets rich in animal fats and red meat may increase the risk of prostate cancer.
Perhaps most important, prostate cancer is treatable. Approximately 2.9 million prostate cancer patients are still alive today, ACS states. With proper prostate cancer diagnosis and treatment — and plenty of support from loved ones — men can address their prostate cancer symptoms.
Become a Good Sounding Board
For the patient, a prostate cancer diagnosis may incite anger, sadness, anxiety, depression, and other emotions. As a loved one who cares about a prostate cancer patient, it is crucial to do everything possible to provide this individual with a good sounding board. That way, a prostate cancer patient can express any concerns, fears, or questions to a trusted confidant throughout a prostate cancer treatment.
Becoming a good sounding board is unlikely to happen overnight, and an individual must work diligently to empathize with a prostate cancer patient to ensure he or she can provide emotional support. Fortunately, there are several things an individual can do to become a good sounding board, including:
- Listen and respond. Listen to what your loved one has to say. By doing so, an individual can learn about a prostate cancer patient’s emotions and respond accordingly.
- Avoid platitudes. Saying things like “I know you will do great!” to a prostate cancer patient may seem helpful, but these platitudes offer no guarantees. Avoid platitudes, and instead, help your loved one analyze all aspects of his emotions.
- Identify emotional subtext. Keep an eye out for signs of doubt, anger, and other emotions and ask questions to help a prostate cancer patient understand and deal with his emotions.
It often helps to know a family member, friend, or colleague is available to chat at any time, too. Therefore, an individual should remain accessible to a prostate cancer patient via phone call, email, and text. This enables a prostate cancer patient to take solace in the fact that he can reach out to a loved one for support in times of need.
Be an Active Participant in Your Loved One’s Prostate Cancer Treatment
There are many ways an individual can take an active role in a prostate cancer treatment. These include:
- Provide Help Around the House: Help a prostate cancer patient maintain a neat, tidy house and perform assorted day-to-day errands to help this individual focus on what is most important — treating his prostate cancer.
- Offer a Ride to the Doctor: Going to a doctor alone may be stressful. By providing a ride to the doctor, an individual may help a prostate cancer patient alleviate some of the stress commonly associated with doctor’s visits.
- Find Support Groups: US Too, Male Care, Imerman Angels, and other prostate cancer support groups are available nationwide. These groups enable prostate cancer patients and survivors to connect with and support one another throughout treatment and recovery.
An individual does not have to be a urologist to help a prostate cancer patient achieve the best possible treatment results. If an individual takes an active role in a prostate cancer treatment, he or she can help a patient combat prostate cancer both now and in the future.
Take Care of Yourself
Don’t forget to take care of yourself — without exception. Otherwise, you may struggle to provide your loved one with your full attention.
There are a lot of things you can do to simultaneously support a prostate cancer patient and take care of yourself. These include:
- Get Plenty of Rest: The National Sleep Foundation (NSF) recommends an adult get between seven and nine hours of sleep per night. With a good night’s sleep, a person can stay focused, optimize his or her day-to-day productivity and efficiency, and provide a prostate cancer patient with comprehensive support.
- Take Time to Process Your Emotions: Seeing a loved one go through a prostate cancer treatment may be traumatic, and an individual should dedicate time to process his or her emotions. It may also be beneficial for an individual to discuss his or her emotions with a loved one.
- Enjoy Some “Me” Time: Let’s face it — everyone needs a break sometimes. For an individual who feels stressed or worried about a loved one dealing with prostate cancer, spend some time enjoying a fun activity. This activity may help an individual feel refreshed, revitalized, and ready to help a prostate cancer patient in any way possible.
Prostate cancer is a major challenge for patients and their loved ones. Thankfully, Comprehensive Urology serves as a prostate cancer resource. Our team includes urological experts who can respond to prostate cancer concerns and questions, as well as provide personalized prostate cancer treatment recommendations. To find out more, please contact us today at (310) 499-2756 to schedule a consultation with one of our friendly, knowledgeable urologists.