Prostate cancer has a vast impact not only in the life of the patient, but in the lives of those closest to him. Having a husband or other relative with prostate cancer requires you to cope with your own feelings, concerns, and confusion while simultaneously helping your loved one get through this challenging time. Family members play a fundamental role in providing support and care to their husband, father, brother, or son who is coping with this disease. Each family member can boost overall morale, ensure that treatments are taken properly, and engage in discussions on treatment decisions. Other ways families can cope with prostate cancer are listed below.
Plan for the Future
You may think there is nothing that you can do to prepare yourself for prostate cancer. Although you may not be able to prepare yourself emotionally, there are some legal and financial issues that can be planned in advance.
- If you are employed and have health insurance provided to you by your employer, consider moving family members onto your plan. If both spouses are employed and have health insurance, determine which plan will serve you best.
- Spouses should discuss the option of a preplanned health directive. This is document that allows someone else the ability to make medical decisions for the patient if he is unable to do so.
- Another topic of discussion can regard whether your loved one should sign over financial powers of attorney to a family member. Under this agreement, another family member can make financial decisions, regarding bills, etc., on behalf of the patient if they are no longer able to do so.
For families coping with prostate cancer, it is important to keep the lines of communication open. Even though it can be easy for diagnosed men to become depressed or to remain in a state of denial, open communication between all family members is vital. There may be moments when the patient does not want to talk and it is important to respect his privacy. However when patients want to engage in conversation family members should make themselves available to listen and respond. By talking about how you feel, relationships can be strengthened in a powerful way.
Family members should encourage a husband, father, brother, or son to follow through with routine examinations needed to check the prostate. Offer to attend the appointment with them or drive them to the physician’s office. Keep in mind that prostate cancer is the most curable in the earliest stages and there are generally no noticeable symptoms. It is important to catch problems early through regular checkups.
Another way to show how much you care is to attend support groups together. One of the best ways to alleviate feelings of helplessness and isolation is to meet others who have traveled a similar path.
As a family unit, educate each other on all aspects of prostate cancer. When you fully grasp the diagnosis, you are better able to provide support and understand what your loved one is going through. Families can seek new information and keep on top of recent findings, clinical trials, and studies that may be beneficial.