How to Support a Loved One with Prostate Cancer
Prostate cancer affects the prostate gland, which is a small walnut-shaped structure in males positioned below the bladder. The prostate produces seminal fluid, which feeds and transports sperm. Prostate cancer is one of the most common forms of the disease.
A prostate cancer diagnosis and treatment can be challenging for the patient and their loved ones. Read on to learn about support for prostate cancer patients.
Support Following a Prostate Cancer Diagnosis
Some types of prostate cancer are slow-growing and require little or no treatment. However, others are aggressive and can metastasize (spread) to other parts of the body. Those types typically require treatment.
If a loved one has been diagnosed with this disease, it’s important to understand how to help someone with prostate cancer.
Educate yourself on treatment opportunities
Research prostate cancer to understand its symptoms, progression, how it affects patients physically and emotionally, etc. That way, you’re well-informed for conversations with your loved one, their caregivers, or other family members.
There’s a great deal of information from cancer experts and organizations online. For example, Baptist Health offers many resources on prostate cancer and cancer in general. This includes those listed near the bottom of this page.
Explore financial options for prostate cancer treatment
Determining how your loved one’s medical treatment will be paid for can be a relief to you and them. It also makes everyone feel more empowered as you navigate the treatment process.
There are many resources available to help with cancer care costs. An excellent place to start is having a conversation with the patient’s health insurance provider to understand the coverage available. Hospitals also have team members focused on helping patients understand where and how to access financial assistance.
Seek support for prostate cancer
You should ask for help caring for your loved one (and yourself) when you need it and accept assistance when people offer it. Being a care provider is much more manageable when you have help.
Assistance can take many forms, including allowing friends to cook meals for you when you don’t have the time or energy to handle that task, helping the patient get to medical appointments so you can address other obligations, etc.
It’s also vital to have people to talk with who know from experience what you’re going through. Many groups provide prostate cancer support for wives. Whether they meet at a physical location or online, simply connecting with others who listen and empathize is important.
What to Expect During Treatment
If your loved one will receive active prostate cancer treatment (as opposed to surveillance only), knowing about possible side effects is helpful. For example, some men experience urine leakage and erectile dysfunction following surgery. Radiation treatment may also affect erections, but typically not until later in the treatment. Bowel issues and painful urination can also occur.
Some men get hormone therapy as part of their treatment. The loss of testosterone can lead to weight gain, decreased sex drive, hot flashes, and erectile dysfunction. A patient may also develop heart problems and brittle bones.
You can help your loved one address side effects by being available to discuss them and encouraging the patient to ask their doctor about ways to minimize the issues.
Don’t Forget to Care for Yourself
As the loved one of someone with prostate cancer, you also face significant stress. You must acknowledge that fact, pay attention to how the situation affects your body and mind, and take steps to reduce your stress as needed. This includes:
- Taking time out from your role as a caregiver periodically
- Eating well
- Getting enough sleep
- Enjoying quality time with family, friends, and pets
- Joining a support group
- Seeing your doctor as needed for checkups, treatment for your health conditions, etc.
Additional Resources for Prostate Cancer Support
Here are some places you can get helpful cancer-support information and resources:
- CancerCare has information on support groups led by cancer-focused social workers, caregiver workshops, monthly question-and-answer sessions, and more.
- AARP (American Association of Retired People) has helpful caregiving guides for families. They include lists of federal and national resources, medication charts, insights on self-care for caregivers, and other items.
- CaringBridge is a free service that makes it easier to keep family and friends informed about the patient’s progress.
- Family Caregiver Alliance can help you find cancer-care resources near you, including general information on being a caregiver, government programs, legal help, and more.
- Cancer Support Community offers caregiver tips and other resources. The organization also has a password-protected online support group.
- Help for Cancer Caregivers has many resources related to the caregiver’s role and journey, covering topics like finding help, identifying stress and burnout, embracing self-care, etc.
- Baptist Health has an array of resources online, including articles on The Role of the Cancer Nurse Navigator, Coping With Life Changes After Cancer, Anxiety and Cancer, and many others.
To learn more about helping a loved one cope with prostate cancer, visit Baptist Health's Cancer Care page.