1. Don’t Rush Into Treatment- By the time a man is old enough to receive a diagnosis of prostate cancer, the odds are he’s known friends and/for family who died as a result of cancer. Past experiences, assumptions about cancer, and fear rather than specifics of their diagnosis often drive men to chose unnecessary aggressive treatment options. A diagnosis of prostate cancer does mean you face a life-threatening emergency. Some prostate cancers are so slow in growing you can go decades without aggressive treatment. Base your treatment decision on the specifics of your diagnosis, not from your pre-existing fears about cancer.
2. Don’t face prostate cancer alone. Put together a team to help you cope as well as to help you make the best possible treatment decision. Your team should include Doctors from different fields of treating prostate cancer, friends, family, clergy and other people coping with prostate cancer. Make sure your team includes people who are further along the journey of coping with prostate cancer than you are. If you’d like meet with people face to face, Us Too has a very large person to person support groups around the country. If you are more comfortable with the anonymity an on-line support group offers there are many great on-line prostate cancer support groups to join.
3. It’s OK to admit you are afraid. Take the time to process your fears about your diagnosis of cancer. Find other prostate cancer Survivors to speak to about your fears about cancer. Get support from many members of your team.
4. Don’t forget your partner- Both of you are facing cancer and your partner needs comfort and support too.
5. Find ways to bring laughter into your situation. I went on-line to find jokes about prostate cancer. My fear was so powerful, I knew laughter could help me overcome my fears. Find many ways to laugh. Watch situation comedies, rent funny movies, and spend lots of time with the people who make you laugh.
6. I found that songs helped alleviate my fears. Secular songs like Lean on Me by Bill Withers, praise songs like Blessings by Laura Story, and hymns like It Is Well With My Soul song by Chris Rice, provided me with comfort and hope.
7. I can’t imagine coping with cancer without prayer. Praying invites God into your circumstances. Things I found helpful to pray for were for peace, wisdom, grace, and laughter. Praying to be healed isn’t a prayer that’s always answered but it’s something important to pray for.
8. Enjoy your life in a new way. The old expression “take time to smell the roses” applies. You may discover your priorities will change, the things you value, what’s important or how you spend your time can change as a result of your experience with cancer.
9. Learn to Celebrate. You can celebrate when you've made a treatment decision, when a friend reaches out, when a prayer is answered, when a relationship is restored, when you are able to laugh. Find as many things as you can to celebrate. Don’t celebrate along, invite others to share the things you celebrate.
10. Allow your experience with your own mortality change you for the better. Develop new perspectives on what’s important in your life. Become a peacemaker. As far as you are able try to end grudges with family and friends. Reach out and put your best efforts into restoring broken relationships. Become a better listener. Become kinder, more generous, forgiving, and loving. Allow your experience with prostate cancer and your mortality to transform you into a better person.