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A man's hand holds a piece of chalk and draws circles around stress relief strategies on a playbook diagram.

A Personal Battle Plan For Stress

Coping with prostate cancer at any stage is not easy.

Many men experience some form of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a result of prostate cancer-related treatments and testing. No matter how you look at it, events like surgery, radiation, ADT, and more put a lot of stress on both your mind and body.

While men undergoing active surveillance initially are relieved to learn they do not need treatment, they soon discover that active surveillance can be a cause of significant stress. Mounting tension combined with repeated biopsies and ongoing PSA testing often produces some form of PTSD.

How can we reduce daily stress?

Trying to overcome serious PTSD is best left in the hands of professionals -- that said here is what I have found helpful to relieve general stress on a day to day basis.

Join a support group

Join a support group and even if you don't feel the need for a support group. These groups can be a great source of information. Personally, I am a member of 2 groups currently. If you are not sure how to locate a group, speak with the social services department at your local hospital, or ask your physician about support groups in the area.

Rethink our lifestyle

Consider making some lifestyle changes. I have found that making such changes is helpful for both my overall health improvement and mental state. Making some positive changes makes me feel as if I can control something in my life when it comes to my health.

Recently a speaker suggested to us that vigorous exercise may have a positive impact on slowing the spread of prostate cancer. He noted there have been a few observational studies that indicate that a healthy diet, combined with exercise, weight control, and stopping smoking may help some prostate cancer patients.1

Diet can make a difference

A question I hear often is: “Should I change my diet?” While I have made personal changes to my consumption patterns there does not appear to be a definitive answer on what food choices can affect the progression or re-occurrence of prostate cancer. Several observational studies suggest that good nutrition which includes three to five servings of fruits and vegetables a day may improve one’s overall chances of surviving cancer.2

A federally funded study investigating if diet can affect the progression of prostate cancer in men on active surveillance is interesting. The findings in the Men Eating And Living (MEAL) program suggested that eating 9 servings of fruits and vegetables daily and two servings of whole grains along with one serving of legumes may be beneficial. A typical daily regimen of berries and nuts for breakfast, followed by a tuna fish sandwich or bean soup for lunch and ending the day with a serving of very lean meat or fish with rice or pasta for dinner may offer some help.3

Benefits of exercise

It is generally held that an overall exercise program can relieve stress and help slow the risk of developing some deadly health problems -- ranging from heart disease strokes and certain types of cancers. While I have yet to come across a study that proves the direct impact of exercise on prostate cancer, there are men in our group who believe it has helped them.4

Tell us what helps you manage stress

So, there you have it. These are the things that I have focused on when it comes to dealing with my stress and prostate cancer on a daily basis. Feel free to pick what might be of interest and let me know if you have additional suggestions in the comments.

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