This month's focus: Relate volunteers
Mel and Marian Davis talk about their experience as Relate volunteers
We have been volunteering as part of Men United for Prostate Cancer UK for nearly two years and are always open to new opportunities to spread awareness of the disease, and also to increase public and professional knowledge of both the facts and the emotional impact of being diagnosed and living with prostate cancer.
This is why we were happy to share our experience of coping with a prostate cancer diagnosis as a couple at Relate training in Birmingham and Nottingham. Relate are able to offer counselling to men, their partners and their children, and we were keen to be involved because we know how important it is for people being trained in counselling to have an insight into the journey of those affected through the course of diagnosis and treatment. As a couple we are also particularly keen to promote understanding of the impact on partners and the wider family.
The Relate team made us very welcome and we enjoyed meeting the counsellors and seeing them benefit from the information presented by the nurse, and also by hearing our story. Some of them had personal experience through family and friends, but by attending the presentation we helped them get a much better understanding of what those affected by prostate cancer might be going through. One counsellor said that hearing our story would make it much easier for her to relate to people she sees in the future.
Knowing that counsellors, who support people with prostate cancer, have a greater understanding of the needs of the people they see because of our story is reward enough, but the sessions also helped us as a couple as they encouraged us to think about how we dealt with the illness ourselves and whether we had come out of it unscathed.
Reliving the emotions we experienced throughout our journey was challenging, particularly sharing them in a room full of people. We found that, like bereavement counselling, it helped that it wasn't a very recent experience for us and that we have come through it all and have been given the all clear. Although at times the discussions did make us recall the distress and fear we had experienced at the time, we are fortunate to have survived and are continuing to live a healthy and happy life together.