18 Dec 2013
In - The Manual

Dealing with prostate cancer can be tough. But there are ways you can help yourself to keep fit and well in the mind, as well as the body.

When I was diagnosed my emotions were all over the place. Is this normal?

Yes absolutely. Being diagnosed with prostate cancer can be a massive shock. It’s normal to feel shaken up. Men say they feel angry, frightened, down or sometimes just numb. Give yourself some time and space – your feelings will often settle down. You might not be able to take it all in straight away – but getting more information about your diagnosis and treatment options can make you feel more in control of what’s happening.

If difficult thoughts and feelings aren’t going away, there are things that can help you sort them out – speaking to our Specialist Nurses or other people who understand is a good place to start. Keep reading for more tips and ideas.

How can I stop worrying about the future?

Men say they worry about different things – whether their treatment will work, their test results, whether their prostate cancer will come back, how their life will change and, understandably, the future and whether or not they will survive having cancer.

There are lots of uncertainties so you might find it helps to map out some things that you can be more certain of – like what treatment will involve and what side effects you might get. Talking to your doctor or nurse, finding out the facts or speaking to our Specialist Nurses can help you with this.

Talking to someone who’s been there, like our One-to-one support volunteers, can also help you get to grips with what to expect and how to deal with it.

Make the most of  the present by doing things you enjoy, as well as planning things to look forward to in the next few days or weeks – even if this is just simple stuff like planning to see friends and family.

You might want to have longer term goals or challenges to keep you focused on positive things in the future, like training for a sporting event or planning a holiday.

Making practical plans can help you get more prepared for what the future may hold, and reassured about the future for your family. If you’ve got advanced prostate cancer, read more about planning ahead and the support available.

Don’t let worry get on top of you – you can learn ways to manage it. Your GP can often refer you on for further support, or why not get in touch with our regional services to see what support they offer? You can also look for anxiety or stress management courses. Lots of places run these, including local cancer support centres, hospitals, Maggie’s Centres, Macmillan Cancer Support, Expert Patients Programme or Penny Brohn Cancer Care.

How do I deal with feeling down?

When you’re living with cancer it’s normal to feel down. But lots of men feel like they should be strong, stay positive and cope on their own. These can be useful ways of getting on with things, but unloading what’s going on in your head can be a really good thing.

Find someone you can talk to. It could be someone close, or a man who’s been through the same thing (have a look at our online community or a local support group). Or it could be someone trained to listen, like a counsellor or your medical team.

Some men with prostate cancer do get depression. Look out for the signs. Being depressed can make you feel tearful or low, but you might also get angry more easily, start drinking more and stop taking care of yourself. If you recognise these kinds of changes in yourself, take control by doing something about it – tell someone you know and trust, your GP, or your doctor or nurse at the hospital. Anti-depressants and counselling can be effective for men with prostate cancer.

How can I stay mentally fit and well?

Figure out what works best for you – think about what motivates you and what relaxes you.

Be as active as you can. Physical activity can lift your mood. Even just going for a short walk could make you feel better. Eating healthily is also a good way of taking control of your well-being.

Take time out to unwind – learn some techniques to manage stress and to relax – like listening to music, breathing exercises, or even yoga or meditation. Give yourself time to relax and have fun by socialising, keeping up with hobbies and interests, or trying something new.

Build-up a network of people to support you – this could include your partner, friends and family. It might involve health professionals and other men with prostate cancer that you meet through support groups or our online community.

Why see a counsellor? Could it help?

It’s not always easy to tell those close to you how you really feel. Some men say that counselling is a useful way to get things off their chest because it means they can talk to someone neutral. Counsellor’s are trained to listen and can help you to find your own answers and ways to deal with things.

There are different types of counselling available. One type of counselling is cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). With CBT, you’ll talk with a therapist who helps you come up with practical ways to tackle any patterns of behaviour or ways of thinking that are causing you problems.

Lots of hospitals have counsellors or psychologists in their team who specialise in helping people with cancer – your doctor or nurse at the hospital will be able to let you know if there’s one available.

Your hospital doctor or nurse or your GP might be able to refer you to a counsellor. You can also find a counsellor yourself. To find out more contact the British Association for Counselling & Psychotherapy. The charity Mind has lots more information about counselling or ‘talking treatments’

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