Coming to terms with prostate cancer

Some men want to yell. Some want to cry. Others are completely silent.

Men respond in all kinds of ways to being diagnosed and living with prostate cancer and it’s all very personal. But these feelings of anger, sadness and losing hope don’t have to last forever. You can get through the ups and downs, one step at a time.

What’s normal to be
feeling right now?

Everyone’s different, but you may be feeling a wide range of emotions like:

  • shock and anger

  • denial

  • worry

  • loneliness

  • feeling like a burden on others

In this moment, you might
also be going through:

  • Sense of loss 
    Physical changes to your body, such as putting on weight, losing physical strength, or changes to your sex life could make you feel differently about yourself.

  • Changing identity 
    Sometimes men say they feel less of a man because of their diagnosis and treatment. Other times, men feel that their role in the family has changed - for example, because they’ve had to stop working.

  • Mood swings 
    Some treatments, like hormone therapy, can make you feel a wide range of emotions in a short amount of time. This can mean getting teary-eyed one moment and extremely angry the next.

It’s important to know that you’re not alone, and there are many people (like friends and family) in your corner to support you. Speak to your doctor, care team or a counsellor if you're feeling overwhelmed.

You can also ring the Samaritans on 116 123 for confidential emotional support (24 hours a day, by phone, email or face to face).

Taking Action

Everyone has their own way of dealing with prostate cancer. Here are ways you can take action:

  • Find out more about your treatment, so you know your options and what to expect.

  • Find out about the side effects of your treatment, so you know how to get ahead of issues.

  • Be as active as you can. Even gentle walking can improve your mood. 

  • Think about what you eat and drink. Eating a healthy, balanced diet can give you an energy boost. 

  • Take time out to look after yourself. When you feel up to it, learn some techniques to manage stress and relax, like listening to music, yoga or breathing exercises.

  • Set fun goals and things to look forward to.

Who can help you get better?

Trained counsellors

Counsellors are trained to listen and can help you to find your own ways to deal with things. Many hospitals have counsellors or psychologists who specialise in helping people with cancer — ask your care team at the hospital if this is available or if they know of services in the community you can access at low or no cost to you. Your doctor may also be able to refer you to a counsellor, or you can seek out a private counsellor yourself.

To find out more information and details for local counsellors, contact the British Association for Counselling & Psychotherapy.

Your medical team

Talk to your nurse, doctor or someone else in your care team. They can help you understand your prostate cancer diagnosis, treatment and side effects, listen to your concerns, and put you in touch with other people who can help.

Additional Resources

The emotional impact of prostate cancer
Support for family and friends
Adapting to life during and after cancer treatment
More on psychotherapy and finding a therapist

What's next?

Now that you've read up on Coming to terms with prostate cancer, here are some related articles to explore as you continue to build your knowledge and understanding of this topic.
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