- Posted by jdavis on August 31, 2011
Once you receive a diagnosis of prostate cancer or treatment for this disease, you may experience a range of feelings — including disbelief, fear, anger, anxiety, emptiness and depression. You may not be able to get rid of these distressing feelings. But you can find positive ways to deal with them so they don’t dominate your life. The following strategies can help you cope with some of the difficulties of prostate cancer:
Be prepared. Ask your doctor questions and read about prostate cancer and its potential side effects. The fewer the surprises, the more quickly you’ll adapt.
Try not to wallow in sad feelings. Seek diversions and plan at least one enjoyable experience every day. This might include pursuing a hobby, playing golf or going to a movie. Make it something you enjoy and look forward to.
Maintain as normal a routine as you can. Don’t let the cancer or side effects from treatment dominate your day. Try to follow the routine and lifestyle you had before learning of your cancer. Go back to work, take a trip, join your children or grandchildren on an outing. You need activities that give you a sense of purpose, fulfillment and meaning. But realize that initially you may have some limitations. Start slowly and gradually build your level of endurance.
Get plenty of exercise. Exercise helps fight depression and is a good way to relieve tension and aggression.
Look for ways to compensate. If you have problems with incontinence, sit in the back of the theater or meeting room instead of the front. That way you’re less conspicuous if you need to leave for the bathroom. Sit in an aisle seat on an airplane or train. Wear absorbent undergarments if you’re not sure whether you’ll be near a bathroom. Avoid caffeinated products, which tend to increase your need to urinate.
Open up to a friend, a family member or a counselor. Cancer is too heavy a load to carry all by yourself. Sometimes it helps to talk with someone about your deepest feelings and fears. Your mind and body aren’t separate. The better you feel emotionally, the better you’ll be able to physically cope with your illness. You may find joining a support group helpful, because it can provide you with a sense of belonging, give you an opportunity to talk with people who understand your situation and provide you with advice. Your doctor or someone you know who has experienced prostate cancer may be able to help you locate a support group.
Seek sexual contact. Your natural reaction to impotence may be to avoid all sexual contact. Don’t fall for this feeling. Touching, holding, hugging and caressing can become far more important to you and your partner. In fact, the closeness you develop in these actions can produce greater sexual intimacy than you’ve ever had before. There are many ways to express your sexuality.
Look for the positive. Cancer doesn’t have to be an all-negative experience for you. Good can come out of it. Confrontation with cancer may lead you to grow emotionally and spiritually, to identify what really matters to you, to settle long-standing disputes and to spend more time with people important to you.