After a cancer diagnosis, many physicians refer their patients to cancer support groups. For several reasons, such a referral may be especially important for the man with prostate cancer. At the time of diagnosis, you may be too stunned to ask questions. You may fear you will appear foolish, or you may be too embarrassed to talk openly about your reproductive health. Sometimes even if you do ask all the right questions, the doctor answers in highly technical language that you do not understand. A prostate cancer support group that provides an educational component (e.g., inviting oncologists or researchers to discuss their areas of expertise) can provide vital information for you to take into account when you are making treatment decisions.
Prostate Cancer Support Groups Allow You to Share Experiences
Having a professional speak at a prostate cancer support group can provide vital information, but hearing other men talk about how they have handled their diagnosis and treatment is important as well. You can learn a lot from the experiences of other men who have been through what you are going through now. For instance, if you are trying to decide between two or three types of therapy, a prostate cancer support group will have members who can tell you about their experiences with the different treatments you are considering. Along with the fear and uncertainty that goes with any cancer diagnosis, prostate cancer, which involves a gland in the male reproductive system, may also cause sufferers acute embarrassment.
Most people in this culture are not comfortable talking openly about reproductive organs, much less the diseases associated with them. Digital rectal exams, a vital prostate cancer diagnostic tool, are more often the subject of off-color jokes than serious discussions. Some men avoid this life-saving test because of emotional discomfort. A prostate cancer support group can allow you to discuss your diagnosis with others like you. As you become more comfortable talking about prostate cancer, you will become better able to communicate with your doctor and your loved ones. You may even find yourself educating other men about the realities of prostate cancer.
Prostate Cancer Support Groups Can Help You Deal with Feelings
The strong, silent type of man is a fading stereotype, but men are still often encouraged to conceal their feelings from others. Many people–men and women alike–are not sure how to respond to a man who expresses fear, uncertainty, or sadness. A support group is a place where you can express all of your feelings and have them respected by men who have probably felt most of the same things.
Going to a support group after a diagnosis of prostate cancer may feel intimidating, but a support group can provide you with solid information and emotional sustenance you may not be able to find anywhere else.