Prostate cancer is the second leading cause of death in American men (behind lung cancer), killing 1 in 39 of us annually.
But that doesn't mean men have to face it alone.
If your man is diagnosed with prostate cancer, his 15-year relative survival rate is 95 percent – and it can be even higher if you are standing by him for the battle.
Attend your man's appointments with his doctor. You may be able to discern additional information that your partner misses. Pay attention to what recommendations the doctor makes and be sure your partner follows through on them
Ask questions of his doctor. You are likely thinking more clearly, especially in the early days after initial diagnosis.
Be the ambassador. Lend your voice to communicating with your man's friends, parents and children. Be straightforward and honest. You may wish to seek out others not in your current circle of acquaintances who are working through the same health issues as you and your partner, for support. Here is a list of organizations who can point you in the direction of local groups where you will find help, information, and experiences.
Help with the research. Prostate cancer and its myriad treatments, stages and phases can be a confusing disease. No matter how thoroughly your man's doctor may explain all the options, causalities and eventualities, there is still a lot to learn. This internet site is a great start.
Be understanding in the bedroom. Loss of interest in sex is a common side effect of some surgical and hormone treatments for prostate cancer. Erectile dysfunction is also common when using anti-androgen drugs like bicalutamide, as well as certain hormone treatments. The use of certain medications, started early enough in the prostate cancer treatment process, can sometimes help to prevent erection problems developing.
Your man's erection problems may be psychological or emotional, and not chemically or surgically induced at all. Talk it out with your man and work out whether his ED is being caused by anxiety or treatments, and you may find the problem is not permanent. His doctor – who has heard it all before! – is a great resource in getting to the bottom of any ED issues. If he cannot help you directly, he will certainly be able to refer you to a sex therapist who can.
Adjust expectations. Treatment for prostate cancer will mean your man will not father any children in the future. This can be a huge blow, especially if he was hoping to have children, or more children. Come to grips with this early in the discussions with his doctor, and consider collecting and storing some of your man's sperm before hormone treatments or radiotherapy begin.