When diagnosed with prostate cancer, men seek help from their doctor to treat the physical condition of their disease. But another area that also needs attention is a man’s mental health during this time and beyond. Having cancer is one of the most stressful experiences in a person’s life. For men, being diagnosed with prostate cancer often triggers a strong emotional response. Some men may experience shock, disbelief, or anger. Other men may feel intense sadness, fear, and a sense of loss. For severe mental issues, there are psychologists and therapists to meet those needs. But for many men, just being able to talk with other men who understand and are going through what they are can benefit immensely by joining a cancer support group to help them through tumultuous times.
The aim of a prostate cancer support group is to assist men and their families with information about prostate cancer providing intellectual and emotional support to men whether newly diagnosed or are long-term survivors of this disease.
Cancer support groups are beneficial for each man diagnosed. Every man diagnosed with prostate cancer has their own unique story to tell. No two men travel the same journey. Even though each man comes from a different background, one thing they each have in common is the need for a good support system both during and after prostate cancer treatment.
How will men benefit from a prostate cancer support group?
Joining a prostate cancer support group can be one of a patient’s best ways to cope with this cancer. Men will benefit from them in the following ways:
· Gain instant camaraderie and support. Men will have someone to talk to and feel less alone.
· Gain a sense of empowerment to face the diagnosis and treatment. Other participants may have suggestions about dealing with side effects, or suggestions for resources and providers
· Reduces depression and anxiety. Emotional support is essential to surviving and thriving with prostate cancer
· Learn coping skills and gain the tools necessary to deal with stress and to better adjust to a changing situation
· Feel free to talk openly about their feelings and fears. It is no secret men often find it difficult to express themselves – a situation amplified when sexual issues are a topic of conversation. A support group provides a safe environment to share
Choosing the right support group
Support groups come in all shapes and sizes. Men interested in joining a support group can start by asking their doctor about such groups they would recommend. Many support groups are affiliated with a hospital or clinic in which a patient is already receiving care from. Usually such groups meet on a regular basis at a certain location to best meet the needs of the individuals they are serving.
In recent years, Internet support groups have become popular. These groups may be a good option for men who live in remote areas, don’t have easy access to transportation, or who don’t feel comfortable sharing their experiences in person. There are various online groups with chatrooms and members from all over the world.
Choosing the right support group for a man with prostate cancer is key. Before deciding on a support group, a man should find one that best matches his wants and needs. Men can even try out a support group once or twice to test the atmosphere and group leader before making their final decision. Here are some questions every man with prostate cancer considering joining a support group should ask himself:
· Do they want to learn more about the science and biology behind cancer?
· Are they looking for emotional support?
· What aspects of the support group appeals the most to their needs?
How to find a prostate cancer support group
Men can find a prostate cancer support group several ways:
· Ask their doctor or other health care provider for assistance
· Search the internet for online support groups
· Contact local centers such as community centers, libraries, churches, synagogues or temples
· Check local listings by looking in a local telephone book or newspaper for a listing of support resources
· Ask people you know with the condition
· Contact organizations such as prostatecancer911.com