Caregiver Spotlight: Dana
Dana is the wife of a two-time prostate cancer survivor. After her husband's first diagnosis, Dana quickly realized there was very little information available for wives and partners. HisProstateCancer is Dana's answer to this problem as she strives to create a space where partners, wives, and loved ones can gather, connect, and share stories.
Meet Dana and her husband
I am the wife of a two-time prostate cancer survivor. My husband was first diagnosed in 2005 at the young age 50. He underwent radical prostatectomy. Five years later, he had a recurrence and underwent hormone therapy and radiation. Today his PSA is still detectable, but fortunately, it has remained stable. I am also a medical writer and researched and wrote about prostate cancer treatment many years before my husband’s diagnosis. Before that, I was Director of Programs for a large nonprofit health organization. Writing for patients has always been a passion for me. I love taking technical information and trying to make it a little easier for patients to understand.
The mission behind HisProstateCancer
The mission of HisProstateCancer is to empower spouses and partners with information, help, and hope, so they can better cope with their loved one’s prostate cancer.
When my husband was first diagnosed, there was very little information specifically for wives, family members, and partners of men with prostate cancer. There was even less information for younger couples, and certainly, nothing that addressed the post-treatment quality of life concerns of younger couples. I felt there was a real need to address those issues that weren’t (at that time) being covered.
HisProstateCancer has a number of extremely valuable resources from treatment information to appointment guides to advice on intimacy.
Resources that make a difference
I really tried to provide the kind of information and resources that I would have liked to have had when my husband was first diagnosed -- and then when he experienced his recurrence. I often advise men and their loved ones to learn as much as they can about prostate cancer (from reputable sources) before talking with their doctors so they can make the most informed decisions possible.
I think the section of the website titled “Getting Started” is a great resource to help people on their journeys. It gives couples a place to start and tips on how to get the information that they need.
Prostate Cancer Bill of Rights
I read a beautiful speech by the late, prostate cancer advocate, Harry Pinchot, about how men need to acknowledge all that their wives and partners do for them. Then I wrote that article directly from my heart as I was thinking back on how powerless I often felt to help my husband. There is no learning manual or set of instructions for spouses and partners when they are faced with a prostate cancer diagnosis. People often experience a wide range of emotions. Everyone is different.
The Prostate Cancer Bill of Rights lets wives and partners know that they don’t have to be so hard on themselves. It is okay to let their emotional walls come down and to ask for help. Just as importantly, it reminds wives and partners that they cannot be there for their men if they don’t take care of themselves first. It is so important.
Create spaces for loved ones to share their story
Wives, partners, and family members can play an important role in supporting the men in their lives who are battling prostate cancer. Hearing about other women’s experiences helped me feel that I wasn’t alone. When you are in the midst of all of the emotions that come after a prostate cancer diagnosis, and the “battle period” during the treatment process, it can be a real roller coaster.
Writing is a way for many people to help get those emotions out. It can be very cathartic. It’s also a way to try and help the next woman or partner who is just starting their process. We can all learn so much from each other.
You can learn more about Dana and her mission at HisProstateCancer.
Who did you talk to first about prostate cancer after your diagnosis?