The stress of prostate cancer

The prostate cancer (matepukupuku repeure) journey can have some bumps along the way. Between diagnosis, treatment, finances and relationships, there’s a lot that might keep you up at night. And as worries pile up, it’s normal to feel stressed out or anxious.

A prostate cancer diagnosis
can be stressful

Right now, you might
have persistent thoughts like:

What if the treatment doesn’t work?

What if the cancer comes back?

Why me?

These are all valid, important and personal questions. Remember that you have people in your corner (like your doctor and care team, counsellor, whānau and friends) to help you work through these feelings. It’s OK to allow yourself to be upset and talk it out.

Counselling, support and
activities to reduce stress

If your feelings of stress or anxiety are becoming overwhelming, talk to your doctor, care team or hauora provider and they can guide you towards helpful solutions. You can also check out the useful resources below.
Counselling support

For support from a trained counsellor, you can free call or text 1737, or use the Depression Helpline

(24 hours a day, 7 days a week).

Cancer Society support &

You can also access cancer support and counselling services by visiting the Cancer Society website or calling their helpline

(Monday to Friday, 8:30am to 5:00pm)

On a day-to-day basis, there are several
things you can do to be more at ease.

Make your
follow-up appointments

Showing up to a doctor appointment is essential but it’s only one part of the visit. While you’re there, it’s important to tell your doctor or care team what’s really going on with you. They need your honest thoughts, to give you the best care and keep watch over your progress. Your honesty can help them suggest good coping strategies or even prescribe a useful medication.

Talk to your doctor, care team
or hauora provider

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

Some general practices have Health Improvement Practitioners. These health professionals can rapidly see anyone (of any age) who needs to make some changes in their lives to improve their wellbeing. Ask your doctor if this is available.

Seek out counselling
or wellbeing support

At a time when you have so much on your shoulders, someone who’ll listen without judgment is critical. Talking to someone kanohi ki te kanohi (face-to-face) is a really good option. There are different people who can help you deal with mental health issues, including hauora providers. You can also look for rongoā Māori healers.

Counsellors are trained on how to listen well and give you space to express yourself. They even help you find your own ways to deal with feelings and make your own decisions.

Many hospitals have counsellors or psychologists who specialise in helping people with cancer - ask your doctor or 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.

Find out more information and search for counsellors in your area on the


You may also be able to access free psychology and counselling services in your local area through the

. Some people find one session very useful, and others appreciate ongoing support.

Join a
support group

Talking to other tāne with prostate cancer can be a helpful way to connect with people who understand what you’re going through. Speak to your doctor for recommendations on any good local groups, or check online for ones that interest you.

Visit the

or the to find a cancer support group or network near you. You can also call (Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm) to connect with a peer supporter, often someone who has had a similar cancer experience to you.

Spiritually connect

Wairuatanga (spirituality) is a vital part of connecting and healing. Some tāne find that talking with a spiritual leader or counsellor can be useful during this time. It may also help to visit places that make you feel calm, at peace, and grounded like at a lake or somewhere out in nature. Taking time to listen to your creative energy, or express your cultural identity through art and waiata (song) can also heal the wairua (spirit).

Keep a journal

When you start to have negative or worrying thoughts, write them down. This will get them out of your head, so you can focus on positive thoughts instead. It may help to share your journal with a counsellor, so they can help you work through it.

Try meditation and yoga

Sitting in a quiet room can help you notice loud, negative thoughts. You might hear yourself thinking, “I’ll never get through this” or “I’m not really a man”. Meditating and thinking about your strengths and what makes you happy can turn these thoughts around. Yoga and taking gentle stretching breaks can loosen you up too.

Maintain a
healthy lifestyle

Regular exercise and eating nutritious kai can boost your mood and give you energy. That positive energy can reduce your stress and put you at ease.

More on

Reduce or cut down on
smoking, alcohol and caffeine

Smoking, alcohol and too much caffeine can be harmful. Cutting back or stopping these completely is recommended.

Share with your partner, whānau
and friends

Being open with people you trust can lighten the load on your shoulders. Kaua e whakamā — don’t be ashamed or afraid to talk through what’s bothering you. Your support system wants to help you get through it, they just need the opportunity to be there for you.

Some people’s family circumstances can create challenges to getting the tautoko (support) they need during these times. If this is the case for you, please talk to your care team or hauora provider who will help you on your journey.

One of the best ways to help your whānau or yourself is by keeping in contact. Strong whanaungatanga and relationships help you:

  • keep stable

  • know that you’re valued and loved

  • get well faster

  • stay well for longer

Your relationships are very important. The break up of an important relationship, or not being able to be with someone you love can have a significant effect on your wairua (spirit).

Remember, asking for help is a sign of strength. Rather than being a seen as weakness, it actually takes courage to admit that you can’t do everything alone.
Kia kaha, Kia maia, Kia manawanui.

Additional Resources

Improve your mental wellbeing

Learn how to manage stress, calm your mind or lift your mood.

Get mental health support

Access services, get support and learn about caring for your mental wellbeing

Cancer Society of New Zealand

Access cancer support nurses, one-on-one support and counselling services

Find a support group or network near you
Find information and support on
taking care of yourself and others

A resource provided by Te Hiringa Hauora
(the Health Promotion Agency)

What's next?

Now that you've read up on The stress of 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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