Patients aren't the only ones affected by prostate cancer. The disease also has a significant impact on those closest to them -- most often spouses. More than half of spouses told researchers in a recent survey that they take an active role in their husbands' experience. This includes boosting their husbands' morale, making sure treatments are taken properly, and assisting in treatment decisions.
Spouses also experience many of the same emotions that their husbands face. More than half of spouses said they feel helpless, anxious, depressed, or had a loss of intimacy. But there was good news, too. Many spouses said that the disease brought them closer to their husbands.
Prostate cancer rarely involves a single treatment. It may involve several therapies as well as many health care professionals from different specialties to decide the best treatment options, timing, and dosage. Also, the complications and side effects of prostate cancer may require attention from different experts.
If your spouse or another close member of your family has prostate cancer, the following coping strategies may help.
Plan Ahead for Life With Prostate Cancer
When dealing with prostate cancer, people need to plan for the future. This frequently applies to financial, medical, and legal issues. Consider these strategies now:
If you are employed and have health insurance through your employer, consider moving your spouse onto your health plan.
Discuss with your spouse or loved one an advanced health directive. This document allows someone else to make medical decisions for the patient if he is no longer able.
Suggest that your loved one sign over financial powers of attorney to a family member. This allows another person to make financial decisions for the patient regarding bills and the like if he loses the ability to do so.
Keep Communication About Prostate Cancer Open
Let your loved one know that you're there for him while he battles prostate cancer. Without prying, give him the opportunity to share his fears and concerns about the disease.
Get Involved in the Prostate Cancer Process
Show an interest in what your loved one is going through with prostate cancer. Offer to accompany him to doctor visits. This is the best way to learn about his health, treatment decisions, and other important issues related to the disease.
Seek Support for the Prostate Cancer Fight
Many hospitals offer support groups for prostate cancer patients and their family members. Sharing emotions with sympathetic listeners can offer relief. Plus, listening to others' experiences may provide you with new insights and coping strategies. You may also want to seek advice and support from social workers. These professionals are specially trained to counsel families of patients with terminal illnesses on all issues -- from emotional to financial to treatment-related.