08 June 2021
When you hear the news your loved one has prostate cancer, you may suddenly find yourself dealing with feelings of fear, anxiety, anger, depression, and loss. Many partners, families and friends say they feel as though they are on an emotional roller coaster. You are likely to experience changes to your lifestyle and relationships. On a practical level, your life may change overnight, with difficult decisions to be made about work, finances and new roles and responsibilities.
HERE ARE SOME THINGS TO LOOK OUT FOR, AND SUGGESTIONS FOR COPING:
- Notice the warning signs of anger in your body (e.g. tense jaw, heart beating faster, feeling hot, shaking, feeling out of control).
- Take time out. Step outside the room and go for a walk.
- Try relaxation techniques like controlled breathing.
- Talk to your General Practitioner (GP) or a counsellor about ways to manage your feelings.
- Recognise it and say it out loud ('I feel guilty for...').
- Look for the causes of guilt.
- Seek and accept help – talk to a trusted friend, family member, prostate cancer support group member, psychologist, counsellor or your doctor. Find out what help is available.
- Do not use the words 'SHOULD' or 'MUST' – they can make you feel more guilty.
- Exercise regularly, even if it is just a walk around the block. You can exercise with friends or join a gym.
- Learn meditation and other relaxation techniques.
- Do something you find relaxing, such as listening to music, reading a book.
- Talk to someone, join a prostate cancer support group, talk to a psychologist or social worker.
- Rest and try to get enough sleep.
- Eat proper meals that are nutritious, and limit alcohol and other drugs.
- Take time out.
- Be kind to yourself.
- Speak to your healthcare team about ways to manage your stress level.
- Keep in touch with family and friends more regularly. This can be in person, through phone calls or emails and social media sites.
- Accept help from others.
- Invite people over to visit.
- Join a PCFA prostate cancer support group so that you are around other people who know exactly what you are going through. To find a PCFA support group, visit pcfa.org.au/support/find-a-support-group
- Try to do at least one thing that you enjoy every day.
- Improve your sleeping patterns.
- Do not stay in bed – get up as soon as you wake up.
- Try to manage your stress before it gets too much.
- Catch up with friends – either in person, or on the phone.
- Do some relaxation.
- Do some exercise.
Talk with people you trust
Whether that'd be with your family, a workmate or close friends, talking about your reactions to a situation can help you process what you're going through. Allowing yourself to talk about how you are feeling is not a sign that you're not coping, it can help you manage your experience better.
This article is an extract from our booklet Understanding prostate cancer for partners and families.
If you need support, we are here for you. Call us on 1800 22 00 99 to speak with a specialist nurse today.