Supporting someone with prostate cancer
If you’re close to a man with prostate cancer you’re likely to want to support him and be there for him. Research suggests that family and friends who offer emotional and practical support may help men deal better with the daily challenges of having prostate cancer.
Doing something to help might also ease your own feelings of distress and help you feel more in control. But be aware of your limits and recognise that you don’t have to do everything. Could other friends or family help out with some things? Social services and voluntary organisations can also be good sources of support.
It is not unusual for men with prostate cancer to feel worried or low. Dealing with a diagnosis of cancer, having treatment and managing side effects can be challenging. Men with prostate cancer and their partners have a higher risk of depression and anxiety. And men on hormone therapy may feel more emotional than usual.
If you notice that your loved one is feeling very down, worried or is finding it hard to cope, encourage him to speak to his doctor or nurse. There are treatments and support available.
What can I do to help?
All men with prostate cancer are different and what helps one may not be right for another.
Talking about it
Many men with prostate cancer value being able to talk to those close to them about how they are feeling. It can help get things out in the open and lift their spirits. There is no right or wrong thing to say – sometimes you might just need to listen. Macmillan Cancer Support has information about how to talk to someone with cancer.
You and your loved one might not always want to or feel able to talk. Some people find they need some support to open up and express how they are feeling. Talking to someone else, such as a friend, health professional or counsellor might be helpful, either together or separately.
And remember, you will be dealing with your own feelings and may also need time to talk about them.
What if he doesn’t want to talk?
Some men prefer to cope on their own, and don’t want to talk about things, or want any outside help.
You might find this frustrating or upsetting. But try to remember that he might not see things the same way as you. Even if you think that he needs some practical help or should be talking about his emotions, he might feel that he’s coping fine.
Try to help him think about what he wants, rather than telling him what he should do. You can do this by asking questions or saying what you think and asking for his response.
Some men may be going through the process of accepting they have prostate cancer. Their initial response could be disbelief, denial and shock. They might find it hard to take in information about their cancer or accept help.
You could let him know that you are there for him if he needs anything. Be specific about the kind of support you can offer – practical as well as emotional. You might need to give him space to come to terms with things in his own time or deal with things in his own way.
Just being there
For some men just having family and friends around is enough. You don’t have to talk about prostate cancer. Just chatting about normal things and doing some everyday activities together might help. Encourage your loved one to see family and friends and to keep up with social activities and hobbies if he feels up to it.