Stressed while on active surveillance

The prostate cancer journey can have some bumps along the way. Between diagnosis, choosing care options, finances, and changes in relationships, there’s a lot that might keep you up at night. And if worries pile up, know that it’s normal to feel stressed out or anxious.

Remember, many men have been in your shoes. They’ve gone on to live long lives, with support from those that matter most. Although everyone’s exact journey is different, the key is to take it a day at a time and make yourself a priority.

Anxious while
on active surveillance?

For some men, active surveillance is the best option, but sometimes this decision comes with a bit of stress. Knowing that the cancer is there can be tough, and it might weigh heavily on your mind. Even if your PSA tests and biopsies show that the cancer is staying under control, you might get anxious about receiving your next result. 

You might have
thoughts like:
What if the cancer becomes more aggressive?
What are the risks of a more active treatment?
Why me?

These are all valid, important and personal questions. Remember that you have people in your corner (like your doctor, care team, counselors, family, and friends) to help you work through these.

Counselling, support and
activities to reduce stress

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

Call the NAMI HelpLine on 800-950-6264 (Monday through Friday, 10am – 6pm, ET) or email NAMI

American Cancer Society

Information on support services and choosing a cancer counselor

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 or care team

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.

Seek out
counseling

At a time when you have so much on your shoulders, someone who’ll listen without judgment is critical. Counselors 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 counselors or psychologists who specialize 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 counselor, or you can seek out a private counselor yourself.

To find out more information and locate a therapist or counselor near you, visit the American Counseling Association or Good Therapy

Join a
support group

Talking to other men 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.
You can also check out these resources:

Prostate Cancer Foundation — information about online support groups for people affected by prostate cancer, their caregivers, and families.

Us TOO — educational resources, support services, and advocacy for men with prostate cancer and their families.

Imerman Angels — a free service providing personalized one-on-one cancer support for people with cancer, survivors, and caregivers.

MaleCare — men’s cancer survivor support and advocacy organization, offering a range of educational resources and access to a variety of different prostate cancer support groups.

Spiritually connect

Some men find that talking with a spiritual leader or counselor can be useful during this time. It may also help to visit places that make you feel calm, at peace, and grounded, like a lake or somewhere out in nature.

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 counselor, 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 food can boost your mood and give you energy. That positive energy can reduce your stress and put you at ease.

More on making changes for a healthier lifestyle

Reduce or cut the use of
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,
family, and friends

Being open with people you trust can lighten the load on your shoulders. 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.

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.

What's next?

Now that you've read up on Stressed while on active surveillance, here are some related articles to explore as you continue to build your knowledge and understanding of this topic.
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