Caregiver Spotlight: Katie
Katie's husband, Ed, was diagnosed with prostate cancer 4 years ago. After standing by her husband through surgery and treatment, Katie talks about her experience supporting someone with cancer. As Katie says, "Knowledge is power and a hug from a stranger is priceless." This is her story and encouragement for other wives and partners supporting someone with prostate cancer.
Life with Ed before and after cancer
I have known Ed for 44 years. One day I went to pick up a girlfriend and low and behold she had an older brother. He didn't have a chance. We have been married for 41 years.
What I love about him is his honesty and how he loves with his whole heart. I love that he believes stupid should hurt so you don't do it again. Unless of course, you are with a friend. (Such guy humor!) He is one of a kind.
The type of treatment Ed chose was radical prostatectomy with Da Vinci robotic surgery. This entire removal of the prostate and some surrounding tissue made sure the cancer would not escape the prostate.
What does “caregiver” mean to you?
A caregiver is someone that gives care and that care can be both physical and emotional. Physical care would be helping someone to sit up, bathe, fixing a meal, making sure medication is taken on time.
Emotional care would be listening to what they are really saying when they complain or fuss. Telling them, "Yeah, I know this sucks. But you're alive and not alone. I'm here. We are going to get through this together."
I am a caregiver.
The lessons of prostate cancer
Knowledge is power. Google prostate cancer and read everything you can find. Talk about prostate cancer with others. There are men and women that have been through this and will share their experiences, good and bad. Go to ProstateCancer.net -- it's a good place to start.
Stay positive and have patience even on days you don't feel like it. Cut your guy a little slack when he gets snippy. He is frustrated that the healing process is not instant. Like most men, they just want to be done.
But, don't let this snippiness get out of hand. Remind them this affects you too, and you don't have to be there, you WANT to be there. Then go have a cup of tea, and let them think.
My advice to other caregivers
Prepare them for post-surgery and maybe the rest of their life ahead of them.
Buy several types of pads, for leakage, for them to try at home. Message companies for samples. HDIS was a big help. They sent several types to try for free. Say, "Hey, I got these for you to try out. See which one you think will work for you, so I can have them in the house after your surgery." Then walk away.
After a few days ask, "Hey did you find a pad you can work?" If the response is no, calmly respond by saying "Look we are getting older and stuff happens. I sneeze and leak, but I deal with it. It might only be for a short while until you heal. So pick a pad or be prepared to do your own laundry."
Walk away, then ask again a couple of days later.
How do you stay positive through this journey?
What is not positive about a prostate cancer diagnosis? They found a silent killer you didn't know was there before. They found it. We know it's there, we can fight it, we can beat it!
It's not a death sentence with early detection, a great medical team, and faith, we will win! And life will continue to be as great as we make it.
Look at life through my eyes
I wish all men and women understood that cancer happens -- it's not fair and it sucks. But a woman that loses a breast to cancer, does not stop being a woman. She still needs to know she is desirable, loved, wanted.
A man that loses his prostate has the same needs. Sometimes he needs to be reminded that being a man comes from above the waist.
Life is not over. Just different.
We are stronger together
Saying that we are stronger together means that any problem or burden in life is a weight that is carried on the body and mind. When carried alone, it wears you down, steals your energy, your joy. It makes the journey seem long, lonely, unachievable.
But, when someone, anyone, shares the weight of their problem with someone else the load is lighter to carry. The journey is bearable. And before you know it, you have made it through.
This year, 2020, makes 4 years since Ed's prostate cancer has been undetectable. Thank God. Ed and I have made it through, together.
Hope this helps someone.
If you are a partner or spouse supporting someone living with prostate cancer and would like to share your story like Katie, you can by going to ProstateCancer.net's share your story submission page. Tell us how you support your partner through diagnosis and treatment and what advice you would give to others facing prostate cancer.
Have you made personal connections through your journey with prostate cancer?