For Family & Companions
Issues for Caregivers
Although prostate cancer strikes only men, a diagnosis of prostate cancer can have a profound impact on a patient’s friends and family. It can be challenging to care for someone who has been diagnosed with prostate cancer. Both the disease and its treatment can have a significant impact on his and your lifestyle and emotional well-being, and for significant others, may introduce changes in your relationship and how you express sexual intimacy.
When your loved one is not responding to treatment or his prostate cancer has returned, you may feel even more anxious, fearful, and frustrated than when he was first diagnosed. It is important that you continue to provide strong support for your loved one and learn as much as you can about the disease and his treatment options.
The following are some issues that you may encounter, and advice on how to handle them, as you and your loved one confront the challenges of dealing with prostate cancer.
Understanding the disease and the treatment options can reduce some of the anxiety and confusion that comes with a diagnosis of prostate cancer. This Web site offers a complete overview of information about the prostate, prostate cancer, and its treatment, and other educational and support resources in our online Store and in the Helpful Resources section.
A diagnosis of prostate cancer can lead to feelings of fear, anxiety, and depression. Your loved one will need you to be understanding and to listen to his feelings without judgment. Try not to pressure him to talk about his feelings before he is ready. Just knowing that you are there for him when he needs you can make a big difference to his sense of emotional well being.
Ask your loved one if he would like you to go with him to his doctor appointments and tests. Men often do not like to discuss their health, and may need an advocate to voice their concerns to the doctor. Also, knowing more about the disease and the treatment options can help you to provide the necessary care and support to your loved one. Be prepared with questions to ask his doctor about the disease and treatment options. Find out what kind of side effects may occur after treatment and how they may affect your loved one’s lifestyle.
You can help your loved one to cope with the physical and emotional impact of cancer and its treatment by
- Helping him stick to his normal routine as much as possible
- Making sure that he eats a heart healthy diet with enough calories to support his ideal weight
- Making sure he gets plenty of rest
Encouraging him to pursue activities that will improve his emotional well-being
- Activities that are purposeful and meaningful – going back to work, playing with his children or grandchildren
- Recreational activities – taking trips, golfing
- Exercise – improves both physical and emotional well-being
Anticipating and implementing changes in his lifestyle due to side effects of treatment
- Incontinence – sit at the back of the movie theater, choose aisle seating in airplanes
- Erectile dysfunction – seek out sexual contact and reestablish intimacy
- Seeking out support from other friends and family members
- Encouraging him to join a support group
- Becoming and advocate for prostate cancer research and awareness
Discussing your feelings, as well as the day-to-day challenges you and your loved one face, with others who are having the same experiences can make a big difference in your emotional well being. There are many support groups for patients and the caregivers and family members of patients with prostate cancer. Encourage your loved one to join a support group or find support online.
Us TOO is a network of hundreds of support group chapters for men with prostate cancer. You can locate the nearest chapter to you, or participate in our online support forums where you and your loved one can talk with experts and other patients about prostate cancer and its treatment.
Remember to take care of yourself as you and your loved one face this challenging time. Staying healthy and emotionally balanced will allow you to provide the kind of support your loved one needs. Get enough sleep, eat well, and exercise, and seek out support from friends and family. Maintain a positive outlook and provide your loved one with a sense of strength and security.