Mo’s husband Mick was diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer in June 2013. Mick started treatment immediately but sadly he died a year after he was diagnosed. Mo found it helpful to try to talk openly with her husband about what was happening.

Photo of Mo and Mick

Mo's experience

In 2013, our doctor told us that Mick had advanced prostate cancer and it was terminal. Mick told the doctor that he didn’t want a prognosis. He said, “I do not want to know how long, I do not want to be forever looking at a clock on the wall and thinking time is running out."

I held him very tight and told him how much I loved him and that I would be there with him and for him every step of the way.

I held him very tight and told him how much I loved him.

I tried to find someone with similar results to Mick. I met up for a coffee with a kind lady I had spoken with on the online community. She initially shocked me by telling me that things sounded really bad. But it was what I needed to hear. Over the years that lady has become a close friend of mine.

She asked me if I felt I would be able to have a conversation really early on with Mick about the elephants in the room – all the things we were too afraid to talk about. I went away thinking it would be impossible to do this just months after Mick had been told the worst news ever.

Talking about it

A few weeks later Mick surprised me by asking me to sit down and go through everything with him. Nothing too specific at this stage – just sharing our thoughts on what we could do to be prepared for his death. Whether it was six months or three years away, we would still need to be prepared.

We made a list of things to try and deal with. It covered finances, communication with friends and family, funeral wishes, end of life care, and holiday planning.

Once that was done we just kept each other informed on any things that were done and ticked things off as we went along.

Talking about difficult things

If I needed to talk about something difficult, I’d start very gently. One time I said, “There are things I need to know how to do. I don’t know how to refill the windscreen washer in the car – can you show me?” Then he opened up and we talked about other things I might need to know after he died. I then felt that I could ask the more difficult things like, “Who do you want to be around you in your final days?” and “At what point should I call your family?”

Mick was very open about things which made the difficult conversations not quite so difficult. We also found that there were also professionals who could help us talk – our palliative care consultant and nurse offered to step in and help us have these conversations.

My tips for family and friends

  • It has to be his decision to talk about dying. Everyone’s different and not all men will want to talk about their death. I felt that it had to be Mick’s decision to talk. I really wanted him to feel that he was in control and could lead the conversations.
  • Be there if he needs to talk. I wanted him to know that if he did want to talk about things, he could. So I’d say something like “Is there anything you’ve got on your mind?” or “Is there something you want to talk about?” Sometimes he’d shake his head. And sometimes he’d say, “Yes, I think I need to speak to a friend – can you get them on the phone or ask them round?”
  • Find someone you can talk to. You’ve got to look after yourself too. Find a family member or friend you can really talk to. Or talk to someone who’s been in a similar situation. I found that the online community is a really supportive place.

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