George Cooper, a petroleum truck driver was diagnosed with prostate cancer at an early age of 53 years old. His initial reaction was anger. He couldn’t accept the fact he had cancer considering he still has 3 sons and a daughter who depend on him. He was also afraid his wife would think little of him once he sought treatment and suffer from the side effects. He knew what was in exchange for cure… his inability to perform in bed. It was too much for his ego to take that George not only had to deal with prostate cancer. He also had to struggle with depression.
George is just one of the many men who develop depression because of prostate cancer. In fact, the American Cancer Society states that 25% of cancer patients battle against depression. Let’s try to dissect what’s going on inside a man’s mind as he deals with prostate cancer from start to finish.
Initial Reaction Following Diagnosis
Most men who find out they have prostate cancer may feel a mixture of emotions such as anger, denial, despair, anxiety, loneliness, and confusion. Then they will have to worry about a lot of things…its impact on the family expenses, work, insurance coverage, things like those.
But if you come to think of it prostate cancer is actually a slow growing cancer. It means that the cancer cells usually progress or advance so slowly that you may even die of other causes first before you even exhibit its symptoms. And when diagnosed in its early stage prostate cancer is actually 100% curable. Another reason to be hopeful for is that prostate cancer has a 100% 5-year survival rate and a 91% 10-year survival rate.
Still no matter how hard you try to convince a prostate cancer patient that a rainbow comes out after every storm, you can’t control what goes through his head. Depression may set in at any time, be it after diagnosis, during treatment, or after treatment. Though usually it starts to sink in once the side effects of prostate cancer treatment start to come out.
Dealing with the Side Effects of Treatment and Their Impact
Basically the side effects depend on what kind of cancer treatment is used. Things to expect are impotence, erectile dysfunction, fatigue, hot flushes, muscle loss, and bowel dysfunction. And it’s not just these they need to deal with. Their impact on the mental health of every patient could be greater.
Overcoming the Male Ego
Let’s face it. Men have to feed their egos. And knowing that your performance in bed which used to have five star ratings can now only be rated as zero to one is certainly a major downfall. So you lose your self-confidence. And you get depressed over time.
So how do you deal with depression?
The best advice is to voice out your fears. Sure it’s not easy for any man to tell the whole world that you’re weak. But you’re no superman. Even superheroes get hurt. One reason why men get depressed is that their feelings are always kept bottled up inside. So you have to find an avenue to let your emotions out. Get into counseling or stress management program. Or see a psychiatrist specializing in cancer patients so you can be given appropriate therapy.
Advice to Women
The women in the lives of these prostate cancer patients pretty much have an important role in keeping them from depression. If your husband is going through prostate cancer or perhaps recovering from treatment, here are tips you need to keep in mind to make sure you give him all the support he needs.
Tell him that you’re always there to support him.
Make him feel that you love him no matter what and not just for sex alone.
Keep an open communication with him. Give him all the reassurance he needs and that you’re always ready to listen to him.
Tell him that you’re dealing with this problem together and he’s not alone.
Diet and exercise have also been found to help reduce the chances of developing depression. Sad thing is that several of these men often do not realize that they’re already into depression. Or rather they’re in denial. So acknowledging your feelings is key to mental recovery. Then you can go from there.