To coincide with Dying Matters Week, we've launched a new section of our website full of practical tips and personal stories to help men with advanced prostate cancer - and the people closest to them - to prepare for the end of their life.
One in three men with prostate cancer will die from the disease – that’s 10,000 men every year in the UK. So it’s no wonder our survey last year found more than three quarters of you wanted more information about living with advanced prostate cancer, planning for the future and supporting someone coming to the end of their life.
Most sought-after was a better understanding of the physical and emotional impacts of the disease for the man, as well as knowing what support is available to them and their family and friends. Other requests included more information about how to manage pain, what to expect when the cancer progresses and what options there are for care provision.
So today, to coincide with Dying Matters Week, we've launched a new section of our website covering all these topics and more, with lots of practical tips – including ten ways to feel more in control. Together with first-hand accounts from both men with prostate cancer and the people supporting them, we hope you’ll find answers to many of the questions you have about you or someone you love coming to the end of their life.
“My husband planned ahead so I didn’t have to make difficult decisions about his care when he was nearing the end,” says Mo, one of the contributors to our new information section, whose husband Mick died in 2014. “It was one of the kindest and most considerate things a dying man could have done.”
Among the tips she shares for other people in her position is to always have a close family member or friend on-call in case you need someone to be with you in the final hours of the man’s life, and to talk to others with experience about what to expect.
“I was so worried about Mick being in pain or that I wouldn’t know what to do. But in the end, Mick’s death was very peaceful,” she recalls. “Talking to the doctors and nurses and knowing what to expect was essential.”
Peter, one of the men with advanced prostate cancer who shared their stories with us, discusses the difficulties and benefits of discussing his prognosis with the people close to him – including children, who he recommends being open and direct with.
“Everyone reacts differently when you talk about cancer or dying,” he says. “I’ve found it useful to bring humour into it – just because I’ve got cancer, life shouldn’t be depressing for me or those around me.
“I asked my brother, who’s a carpenter, whether he could make me a coffin. He agreed and asked what sort of production timescale I was looking at. I said it might not be useful for a while but perhaps I could use it as a coffee table in the meantime!”