a man weighs two doctors opinions

Prostate Cancer And Stress Management

Being under stress means you are dealing with a "special thing" in your life which is causing anxiety, fear, worry, or all 3. I break it down into mild stress and real stress. A good example of mild stress is when I am trying to write an article. Anyone who decided to pen an article for ProstateCancer.net will experience a bit of writer angst at some point on their journey. Real stress happens where your PSA score goes through the roof.

As of my writing this, I am dealing with some elevated stress due to a rising post-op and post radiation PSA score. This rise was not on my agenda occurring now some 10 years after being cancer-free.

Handling stress with cancer

Since I started writing and moderating for ProstateCancer.net, I noticed there are always those men who appeared to manage the stress of a diagnosis or treatment much better than others. I have seen similar levels of calm demonstrated in some of the small group counseling sessions I host.

After a while curiosity got the best of me and I found myself asking, "How do these men and their partners manage to do so well, while others find a prostate cancer journey mentally or emotionally challenging?"

A fear of the unknown

After replaying in my mind the many lessons I taught and learned as an adjunct communications professor at several local universities, a small glimmer of light began to appear. There were always those students who would come into my speech and communications classes terrified of public speaking. For some the fear of speaking ranked higher than their fear of death. For some the stress of speaking up can hinder how one functions in life.

Back then, my cure was to ask students what caused their stress. Most of the time it was a fear of the unexpected or fear of the unknown. They imagined being asked a question from a classmate that could not be answered on the spot and looking foolish in front of peers. Their fear of speaking subsided when I suggested they first be well prepared on their topic and, second, to answer any unanswerable question by saying “That’s a great question let me get back to you.”

I noted the same sense of relief occurred when men took the time to learn about what they were facing with a prostate cancer diagnosis and to then understand what options were available at various waypoints on their journey.

Getting multiple opinions

When told my cancer had come back for a third time, strangely I did not feel the same level of stress (panic) I had some 10 years earlier with my first diagnosis. Along the way I researched what possible options might be open to me. Rather than taking the advice of one doctor who had been treating me, I sought out other physicians and treatment centers who eventually came up with a different approach that now will offer me a better quality of life in the years ahead.

As of my writing this, I am undergoing radiation at Smilow Cancer Hospital for a small spot of prostate cancer that was found on my hip bone. For any new reader, it is important to understand that cancer cells can travel in your body. Technically you can have prostate cancer cells in other parts of your body, like an arm or collar bone or hip, that are capable of reproducing far from the prostate bed or gland.1

A treatment option with better outcomes

Following a PMSA PET scan which accurately identified the location of my prostate cancer spread, I am actively undergoing stereotactic body radiotherapy (SBRT). This is a high-dose form of radiation therapy that allows a doctor to target and kill off the cancer in generally 3 to 5 treatments. This is less time than conventional radiation, which is usually administered in smaller doses over several weeks.2

With SBRT there is a high level of accuracy in targeting the cancerous growth while avoiding normal surrounding tissue. The outcome with SBRT is suppose to be fewer side effects vs conventional radiation and a better outcome when it comes to destroying the bone-based cancer cells.2

No matter how you look at it, in the end knowledge is a powerful way to help prostate cancer patients take control of stress in their lives. You owe it to yourself and family to be proactive at every stage of this journey.

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The ProstateCancer.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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