Coping with prostate cancer

This page tells you about coping with prostate cancer and the feelings you may have. There is information about:

Coping with your diagnosis

Coping with a diagnosis of prostate cancer can be difficult. You may feel upset, frightened and confused. It may feel that your body is doing something that is outside of your control. It is very important to get the right information about your type of cancer and how it is best treated. By being well informed about your illness and treatment, you will be more able to make decisions and cope with what happens.

Prostate cancer is the most common male cancer in Ireland. Over 3,890 men are diagnosed here each year. Read the stories of 15 Irish men who have all be treated for prostate cancer. They talk about their diagnosis, coping with treatment and coming out the other side.

Read Heroes of Hope: Stories of Prostate Cancer Survival

How prostate cancer can affect you physically

Prostate cancer and its treatment may cause physical changes in your body. Different treatments can cause different types of physical effects. These changes can be very difficult to cope with and may affect the way you feel about yourself. Such body changes can affect your self esteem and the way you relate to other people, especially close family and friends.

You may find that you have changes to the way that your bowel or bladder work after radiotherapy. If you have leakage of urine or a urinary catheter, you can get help from your specialist nurse.

Another problem you may have to cope with is feeling very tired and lethargic a lot of the time, especially for a while after treatment or if the prostate cancer is advanced. If you are fatigued, tell your doctors and nurses. If your doctors and nurses know about the tiredness they can try things to help you. Your fatigue may be because you are anaemic, which you doctor can treat it with a blood transfusion. Your fatigue may be made worse by sleeping badly, anxiety, or depression. If you are tired because you are sleeping badly, you may be helped by a short course of sleeping tablets. Sometimes, that can help get you back into a pattern of sleeping properly. If your poor sleep is related to depression, your doctor will probably suggest anti-depressants.

If you are having a sexual relationship, prostate cancer and its treatment may affect your sex life. There is also specific information about sex and prostate cancer in this section.

Coping practically with prostate cancer

As well as coping with the fear and anxiety that a diagnosis of prostate cancer brings, you may also have to work out how to manage practically. There may be money matters to sort out. If you need financial support, speak to your healthcare team about applying for a Marie Keating Foundation Comfort Fund grant. Please note that the Foundation does not accept any grants directly for individuals; the application must come from a healthcare professional involved in your care.

Try to remember that you don’t have to sort everything out at once. It may take some time to deal with each issue. Do ask for help if you need it though. Your doctor or specialist nurse will know who you can contact to get some help. They can put you in touch with people specially trained in supporting you. These people are there to help and want you to feel that you have support. So do contact them if you need to.

You may need to have access to support staff. Social workers can help you with information about your entitlement to sick pay and benefits. If you live alone, a social worker may be able to help by organising convalescence when you first come out of the hospital.

Coping emotionally with prostate cancer

Each man has his own feelings when he learns he has prostate cancer. Sometimes the main feelings are shock and numbness. At other times it may be fear or confusion, anger or disbelief. But your feelings may be completely different. All sorts of different feelings may come and go.

Your friends and family probably have strong feelings too. They may find it difficult to talk about what is happening to you.  Sometimes cancer leaves us lost for words. It can be hard for some people to talk about cancer or share their feelings, especially when it is affecting those closest to them. If you are the person with cancer or a close relative, look out for friends and relatives with a positive attitude. They can be very helpful in making you feel better.

Try not to feel that you have to rush into talking about the illness. Talk about it when you are ready. Prostate Cancer UK offers information and support through their helpline and a leaflet. There are several cancer support centres all over Ireland and you will find one in your local area. They are always available for help and support to both you and your family.

Remember that you are not alone. Other people have gone through this experience. It can help a great deal to talk to other people who are going through similar experiences. You may be able to find people to talk to when you go for treatment appointments.

Read the stories of 15 Irish men who have all be treated for prostate cancer.

Read Heroes of Hope: Stories of Prostate Cancer Survival