A man performs a lunge exercise while wearing a weighted vest, with a peaceful expression on his face.

After ADT: Healing and Growth

It seems amazing to be able to say that something as dark as dealing with prostate cancer can have its positives, but for me it has. It gave me a chance to heal and grow beyond dealing with cancer. Sometimes it gave me incentive, sometimes it forced me.

I grew in my marriage. I began a journey of growing emotionally. I grew in understanding myself physically and mentally.

And my wife and I have had quite a few laughs along the way.

Dealing with the physical decline associated with ADT

A few months after my prostate cancer treatment ended, I was approached about being part of a study by the Oregon Health and Science University (OHSU) on the effects of exercise on balance in men who have had hormone treatment. We tend to have balance problems as we age due to loss of muscle mass, and ADT (androgen deprivation therapy) can accelerate the loss.

Some other prostate cancer community members are athletic and attack the need for exercise with gusto. I have never felt the lift from endorphins while exercising. I HATE exercising. Being part of the OHSU study was just the incentive I needed to deal with physical decline from hormone treatment.

A focused exercise plan

OHSU's Knight Cancer Institute team did an outstanding job of presenting a graduated, focused plan. The first six months were guided group exercise via Zoom, and the current six months are self-directed.

The exercises are packaged in a clever way. It was some time before we participants put numbers together and realized we were doing 144 assorted lunges, 72 squats, 48 stair steps, as well as planks and posture exercises each of the three hours per week.

While wearing a weighted vest.

For the self-directed portion, we were using a video posted on YouTube. Now we are doing even more repetitions and more intense styles of lunges and squats.

Still wearing the weighted vest.

Noticeable physical improvement

The physical change and improvement is very noticeable. My mobility has improved, my endurance has improved, my balance has improved. A big change from the stooped back plod I experienced under the fatigue of ADT just months back.

And my wife recently told me I have nice glutes.

At age 76.

I'm now in the FIT Together program, which puts additional emphasis on upper body and balance, adding to the self-directed exercises from the GET FIT Prostate program.

Focusing on my mental health, too

Another need is dealing with the emotions of living with prostate cancer, made all the more difficult with the extreme emotions brought on by hormone treatment.

I have not encountered an OHSU-type program that deals with the emotional and mental health side. Instead, like many other men, I turned to mental health care professionals and counselors.

This has been an interesting journey. I've learned how psychological baggage has made it more difficult to deal with the challenge of prostate cancer. For instance, my wife has been wonderful support, but I was not able to accept all that she offered. I like to think I'm free of the stoic male stereotype, but I was not able to accept being pampered, feeling it was an imposition on my wife.

All part of healing

I decided to try full-body Swedish massage to find relaxation from the emotions, depression, and tension. I would never have consented to massage in the past, but now I needed to learn to accept caring touch and being pampered. My wife had been a massage practitioner and helped in the choice of therapists.

I've found massage to be a quiet place when life is challenging. Sometimes I'm triggered during massage and lose some tears as the stress and tension fade. It's all part of healing and it's all good.

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