Reactions to Being Diagnosed
Last updated: September 2019
In our society, all types of cancer bear so much stigma. We are used to such a strong association of cancer with death, it can be very hard mentally when you first get the news. So much so that we may fail to hear all of what other information we are told at the time.
Everyone has a different journey, but it takes most of us some time to come to terms with what we've been told and start thinking about what next steps will make the most sense for us to take.
We recently asked members of our community how they reacted when they were first diagnosed. While the type of reactions varied as much as the men who responded, there are a few themes that emerged:
Being and feeling alone
Community members shared what it is like feeling alone with your diagnosis news:
"I was alone when the Doctor told me. I went numb and did not hear anything the Dr was saying. I went to my car and cried. I was devastated. When I regained my composure, I called my wife to discuss next steps. I would recommend you have a support person with you when you see the Dr for your test results."
"I was alone too, and I also cried once I was back in my car. I too agree with having someone with you for this. I honestly thought it was a mistake. How could I, someone who kept himself fit all of his life have cancer?"
"Sat there numb, then I sat down and cried, got in the truck and went to ... Not going without a fight."
"SHOCKED and Overwhelmed! My father had died from it 6 yrs prior."
It is normal for a man battling prostate cancer to sometimes feel isolated from his “healthy” friends. While it can be easy to isolate from family while being worried about a cancer prognosis or next treatment decision, you will find that it is helpful to talk about these concerns when you are ready. There are a variety of ways to seek emotional support if you need it. With this support, over time you may find that you become more comfortable talking to a spouse or family members about your fears, concerns, and other issues.
Feeling overwhelmed, but then hopeful
Members of our community also shared the importance of turning the situation around, dealing with the present, and fighting back:
"Thought my life was over, but I'm not going down without a fight."
"I prayed. I gave it over to God. I did what the doctors said to do. I prayed. I was healed. I prayed."
"Yesterday was the second time I was told that my cancer is back. Felt like the world came crashing down on me. Lucky my wife was there this time. Now I have to make one of the biggest decisions of my life."
"Shocked! Wife lost it and then I said, what’s next? It didn’t sink in right away but I was blessed. The process was smooth and everything went well."
For those men that had the support of a spouse or other family members, it is always good to hear that you had support from others when you needed it. In spite of the initial fears, the overwhelming sense of panic and anxiety about what is next, many men make it through surgery or other treatment and have a better prognosis than they originally thought. That doesn't make the struggle any easier, only different than your initial fears.
We encourage men to reach out to others for support, whether it is an online group like ours or an oncology social worker or counselor, or supportive friends or family members. Even if you made it through the diagnosis stage without support, you may find a supportive spouse or friend is important for helping with treatment decision making or other parts of your journey with prostate cancer.
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