Talking to People About Your Prostate Cancer Diagnosis

About one in 8 guys study that they have prostate cancer sometime through their life time. In fact, it’s the next primary lead to of cancer loss of life amid guys in the U.S. But after they get the news, numerous guys uncover it really hard to converse about it or to arrive at out for assist and aid as they navigate their cancer journey.

Whilst no one truly is aware of why there’s shame and stigma hooked up to prostate cancer, Christopher Filson, MD, assistant professor of urology at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta, says it may have anything to do with how the prognosis and aspect effects of procedure aspect effects can influence your sex daily life and how manly you feel.

“[These] may be subject areas that guys are extremely cautious about speaking about with family members members, with friends, and some others, generating it a tiny bit far more sensitive. And may be far more tricky for them to branch out to get far more facts from their typical aid networks,” Filson says.


The prostate is a walnut-sized gland situated appropriate below the bladder and surrounds the urethra — a tube that carries urine out of your physique. The prostate also tends to make and suppliers fluid that aids your physique make semen. But when cancer cells develop in that gland, Filson says it can “decrease sexual operate and urinary command.”

“[This] can be the toughest time for a male, significantly if they are nevertheless anxious about cancer treatment.”

It can be About A lot more Than Just Cancer

Jerry Deans is aware of this feeling all too perfectly. It’s been far more than 22 years considering that Deans located out that he experienced prostate cancer. In 1999, when Deans was 55, a gut feeling to get a actual physical led to the prognosis.

No person he realized experienced prostate cancer. Deans asked his health care provider if he realized any individual he could join with. Turns out, there ended up numerous persons, but none of them ended up telling any individual about their problem.

“If guys are concerned of it, they’re not heading to share it. [They] just don’t phone up on other guys and say, ‘Hey, I have acquired prostate cancer and I’m scared to loss of life. What do I do about this?’ They just don’t do that,” Deans says.


Instead, the tendency is to appear it up on the world wide web. Deans says that can be too much to handle.

“It’s like drinking out of a fire hose — you might be just overwhelmed by it all. So, you do want aid of other persons.”

Finding out that you have prostate cancer can choose a toll on your psychological health and lead to:

Appropriate after his prognosis, Deans underwent surgical procedure, and the health care provider explained to him he may have crushed this for fantastic. So, Deans says he didn’t bother reaching out to a aid team.

Regrettably, the cancer came back again about a yr afterwards.

Regardless of radiation and chemotherapy, Deans’s concentrations of protein-particular antigen (PSA) — a sort of protein manufactured by prostate cells that can evaluate a cancer’s development — stored climbing.

An oncologist explained to Deans and his spouse that his cancer experienced spread, and that he may have it for the rest of his daily life.

“We ended up extremely depressed,” Deans says. “It can be one of the least expensive times in my daily life to uncover out that I experienced metastatic prostate cancer somewhere in my physique.


On his way out of the doctor’s business office, he picked up a brochure for a prostate cancer aid team.

At his 1st conference, he not only satisfied some others heading by a comparable journey, but also a urologist who experienced prostate cancer. Deans was equipped to get a next opinion, study coping procedures, and get perception into other people’s prostate cancer journeys.

The aid team turned a place wherever he could “speak freely” about no matter what was troubling him, or use it as an instructional resource to study far more about his problem.

“The cancer doesn’t treatment whether or not you pay back consideration to it, or just neglect about it and deny it. If you want to endure to are living a extended, healthful daily life, then you want to do that with facts, aid, education and learning, and advocate for your self,” Deans says.

The Couple’s Illness

Prostate cancer, aside from getting a actual physical and emotional toll on you, can carry actual physical aspect effects and a absence of communication that can influence your relationship with your spouse.


Bob Wright, 74, experienced no signs or symptoms when he located out he experienced prostate cancer in 2007. Just after a few years of procedure, physicians explained to him he experienced no evidence of recurring ailment (NERD). But the aspect effects still left him “severely impotent and incontinent.”

“I nevertheless remember a poster that reported prostate cancer is the couple’s ailment. For the reason that numerous guys, as a result of acquiring procedure for prostate cancer, the radiation or surgical procedure, close up becoming impotent, and that impacts the couple’s relationship,” Wright, a indigenous of Austin, TX, says.

“So that element is possibly the most traumatic element numerous don’t know.”

Filson encourages companions to arrive along to health care provider visits, in particular the 1st time. Often, companions can connect improved about the actuality, position out irregular signs or symptoms, or push guys to get examined.

Owning a spouse there can be in particular practical if you feel shame or embarrassment about your prostate cancer prognosis or signs or symptoms.

“I check out to gauge the relationship and see how the communication is,” Filson says. “You frequently get refined clues as to companions who roll their eyes about their significant some others not disclosing facts or becoming stubborn.”


For the reason that woman companions are likely to become primary caregivers to guys with prostate cancer, Filson is equipped to get ready them for what’s to arrive.

For Vivian Conboy, 49, her 55-yr-outdated husband’s phase IV prostate cancer prognosis came as devastating news in 2020. But what stunned her far more was that there ended up family members members who experienced prostate cancer but in no way shared anything about it.

“I’m beginning to hear far more about prostate cancer now from community persons mainly because my spouse has it and he is extremely involved in the neighborhood,” Conboy, a New Jersey indigenous, says.

“Men and women have arrive out, ‘Oh yeah, I have that. Oh yeah, I have this,’ But it can be extremely taboo.”

It’s nevertheless tricky for her spouse to open up about it. Conboy says he tends to crack jokes about it in entrance of his brothers or friends about items like having to pay for daily life insurance policy. But she chalks it up to a “coping mechanism.”


As the primary caregiver, Conboy didn’t feel she could converse to her friends about her husband’s health or the adjustments in their intimate daily life. So, she arrived at out to a community aid team for assist and suggestions.

“It helped to examine other people’s stories. I was just here to commiserate and it was fantastic knowing you might be not the only one heading by it,” Conboy says.

Now, she encourages her nephews and sons to get examined early and perform on staying healthful, which includes eating healthfully. She says it’s her way to normalize the dialogue close to prostate cancer.

“There’s practically nothing to be humiliated or shameful about.”

When Keith Hoffman’s PSA exam confirmed somewhat elevated numbers, it was his then-fiancé (now-spouse) who encouraged this 62-yr-outdated to go to a urologist. Fortuitously for Hoffman, his prostate cancer was caught early, and he was equipped to have surgical procedure the same thirty day period.

But it nevertheless took a toll on him.

“Something I learned in the cancer journey was that it’s extremely really hard to deal with any individual becoming explained to they have cancer,” Hoffman says. It was also his spouse who pushed him to arrive at out to a community aid team led by Us Too, a nationwide prostate cancer aid business with community chapters, to get assist.

“It presents guys the chance to converse to other guys and their caregivers about all factors of the process from not just the apparent convenience of physicians and specialties, but alternative of procedure, suggestions, or items to acknowledge along the way in terms of soreness or expectation of restoration time from a lay person’s set up,” Hoffman says. He relied on the group’s aid and camaraderie so considerably that he resolved to be a part of the nationwide organization’s board of directors.

The Great importance of Assist

Hoffman and Wright satisfied at the same community chapter in Austin, TX. Both equally attest to how essential and “valuable” it is to search for assist, share your journey, and converse about your prognosis with friends — in particular those who’ve been by comparable hurdles.


Receiving knowledgeable can feel empowering no make any difference what phase your cancer is in.

“They can just feel harmless and they can say or not say anything,” Wright says. “But the magic comes about after the conference. The fellas don’t want to go dwelling.”

Chatting to some others about your prognosis can:

  • Present camaraderie and aid
  • Make you feel much less by yourself or isolated
  • Educate you and make you feel empowered to deal with your prognosis and procedure
  • Open up up further resources that can provide items like procedure dos and don’ts, assist handling aspect effects, ideas for health treatment suppliers, and suggestions for dwelling a healthier way of life
  • Ease despair and stress and anxiety
  • Help you study coping techniques and get equipment to deal with stress
  • Present a harmless place for you to converse overtly about your inner thoughts, doubts, and fears


If you’re not able to track down a aid team in your location, you can uncover numerous digital communities to be a part of and share your journey with.

In addition to aid groups, you can also lean on your cancer treatment team at your clinic. This consists of a wide variety of health treatment gurus like therapists, social workers, palliative treatment specialists, and oncologists. Often, the resources are out there at no expense. If you have concerns, request your health care provider about it.

Exercise routines like yoga and meditation, as perfectly as counseling with a therapist, can also increase your temper and assist you navigate your cancer journey.

If you’re anxious about treatment or procedure aspect effects, bladder challenges, and sexual dysfunction, it’s essential to let your health care provider know. They may be equipped to uncover procedure alternatives that perform improved for you.