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Talk Helps

Over the years, I have met with therapists for a wide variety of reasons: to unlock childhood issues; to help strengthen my marriage; to find direction as a parent; to relieve the anxiety from a stressful job. I have found that just the act of verbalizing the issues at hand makes a huge difference in maintaining good mental health. Coupled with suggestions from a professional, my willingness to talk as honestly as possible yields positive results.

Reflections from therapy

When I first started my journey with prostate cancer, over two years ago, I found solace and support through talking to my wife, my children, my siblings, my friends, and my doctor. At the end of the first year, I joined a support group at a local hospital, and that reservoir of empathy and knowledge helped immensely. A few months later, in March of 2018, the accumulation of uncertainty about the future, following a decision to have a radical laparoscopic prostatectomy, and other relatively recent health issues, led to an emotional upheaval and a return to my therapist.

At first, I spoke to my therapist by myself and then my wife joined me. My health issues and other family matters had created some distance between us. Now we were facing a new, post-surgery life that included uncertainty about the outcome of the surgery, the impact of potential side effects, our ability to adjust to a new normal. Those meetings helped us close the gap and find new momentum in our relationship, and it led to one major decision. My wife would join me in retirement as soon as possible, which turned out to be in December of 2018. Today, a few months from our 38th anniversary, our marriage and our love for one another is stronger than ever.

The negativity still hurts

Recently, an unexpected event occurred that upset my emotional equilibrium and made me realize how vulnerable I still am almost two-and-a-half years into my prostate cancer journey. I was blindsided by a negative, and what felt like a very personal, reaction to my treatment decision. My wife and I recently spent a few days hiking and sight-seeing in Death Valley. Someone once described the heat there as being like “someone punching you in the stomach and taking your lunch money.” That’s how I felt after the negative reaction: defenseless, vulnerable, violated. I felt it at a visceral level.

I took some time to think and feel my way through the experience, take some of the power out of it, and then I made an appointment with my therapist. We talked for over an hour, during which I was able to broaden the context of the incident, see where it fit into a pattern of responses to such moments that go way back in my personal history, all the way to childhood. I walked out of the office feeling like my balance had been restored.

Our journeys are all unique

In all of the articles I’ve written for ProstateCancer.net over the last 15 months, I’ve emphasized the importance of understanding that every journey with prostate cancer, or any potentially life-threatening disease, is unique and personal. And that on some level, no one who has not had your experience can understand it completely. As Atticus Finch said in To Kill a Mockingbird, “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view…until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.”

I have found that therapists, who are professional listeners, have the knowledge, the empathy, and the intuitive ability to understand my experience, and to help me better understand my experience as well. They can’t climb into my skin, but they can help me feel more comfortable in it. Talk helps.

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.

Comments

  • gM6hXdRCg4rlVCW8
    6 months ago

    Except that, if you are using Cannabis, then they (oncologists, doctors, staff) don’t have any confidence in anything that you say and will continually bombard you with negative statements such as , “No clinical evidence” etc. This when they gave me two months to live in 2017 and so I moved to Cannabis, as there was nothing that they could offer and I improved immediately, yet they still try to break patients like me down – this is the reality. You are left out in the cold if you won’t toe-the-line (which means a slow, painful death).

  • Will Jones moderator author
    6 months ago

    Hi @gm6hxdrcg4rlvcw8, I was wondering if you’ve looked for a support group in your area? I found it very helpful to hear other men’s stories and to receive their support as I went through my treatment. If there’s a cancer resource center near where you live, there’s a good chance you’ll find a prostate cancer support group. Will Jones, Moderator

  • ninaw moderator
    6 months ago

    That sounds really isolating, @gm6hxdrcg4rlvcw8. You deserve to have support, even if you decide not to receive traditional treatment. If you don’t mind sharing, what was your diagnosis? Wishing you well and hoping your symptoms are manageable. – Nina, ProstateCancer.net Team

  • Joemc
    6 months ago

    I got lucky. I was upset and, honestly, afraid.
    I have a wonderful oncologist. She and the nurse put their arms around me and prayed for me. She knew I am a Christian. She helped me to accept and face the challeges.
    This was three years ago. I have had surgery, radiation and hormone therapies. I still have PSA.
    I am entering a clinical trial and getting ready for an artificial sphincter.
    I have no sex.
    I do work out and take walks with my wife. I have lost weight and feel great for a guy with cancer.
    I feel that with perspective, we can get through any challenge that lies ahead. My perspective comes through faith. I accept that yours might be different.
    I am blessed. I am happy. I keep hope for a cure. But if I am not cured, I will live every day God gives me. If I die, I will try to keep a positive attitude through my trials.
    Everyone dies. Cancer is just one thing. I will make the rest of my life the focus and not my inevitable death.

  • Will Jones moderator author
    6 months ago

    Thanks @joemc, for your reply. Faith comes in all forms and it helps to have it in challenging times and in good times. You’ve been through a lot and I really appreciate your honesty. Like you, I cherish this life and the opportunities it gives me no matter the circumstances. I wish you all the best as you continue your journey. Will Jones ProstateCancer.net Moderator

  • kenneth1955
    6 months ago

    I have read many of the post that have been on here and the way prostate cancer will effect the lives of the people that have prostate cancer. For myself. I do not have prostate cancer but I have been doing a lot of research on it. I will not and no doctor is going to talk me into have a radical prostatectomy to get rid of the cancer to make me feel better. I have been looking into different treatments. I will not do anything that will cause me to lose my sex life or my ejaculation. To me it is just as important I may be different but I am very stubborn And I will be that way till the day I die…..

  • gM6hXdRCg4rlVCW8
    6 months ago

    Never say never. If your PC metastasises, then believe me, you will wish that time-travel were possible and I speak from experience. What seemed so massively important will then seem extremely trivial. Just my experience, you should do whatever suits you.

  • Will Jones moderator author
    6 months ago

    Thanks, @kenneth1955, for your perspective. As I point out in virtually all of my articles, every man gets to make his own decision about treatment for prostate cancer. My doctor made all options available and never once favored surgery over the others. It was my decision. My experience has taught me a lot about what’s important in life and emphasized, one more time, the old saying, “Never say never.” We are incredibly resilient creatures. No one aspect of me determines the quality of my life. But I can assure you: a sex life is possible after surgery, including orgasm. The things we learn when our circumstances change! Will Jones ProstateCancer.net Moderator

  • Will Jones moderator author
    6 months ago

    Kenneth, I’m very sorry to read about your friend’s experience. Throughout my journey with prostate cancer I’ve talked to many men who have gone through a variety of treatments. Your friend’s story is the saddest I’ve heard. At the transitional age of 70, with three adult sons, three young grandchildren and a healthy 39 year relationship with my wife, I felt the treatment I chose was best for me and for my family. I don’t know what I would have done if I had been diagnosed at 48. I hope you never have to make a decision like your friend or I had to make. I appreciate the honesty with which you share your feelings. Will Jones Moderator

  • kenneth1955
    6 months ago

    Will……I do understand what is going on and having Prostate Cancer is a lot to deal with. I have read many story’s after men have had there prostate removed. Most of them wished they never had the procedure done because of all the side effect that they had to deal with. Let me tell you about my friend. He was 48 and he was told that he had prostate cancer Gleason 6 – 7. His doctor never offered him anything other them a Radical Prostatectomy He said no. But after he was bullied by his doctor and his wife he agreed to have the surgery. After 6 month he tried to kill him self. At 48 his sex life was over. He could not get a erection. The doctor tried him on pills no luck. He tried the injection. He was able to get a okay one but he said that his orgasm was not worth the time and trouble. He gave up on sex and is living for his 2 young kids. It has been 4 years for him. His erections are still a no show. You can say he is alive but he was killed in another way. I am looking at different things so I am ready for anything that will happen. What you say is true. You are titled to have the treatment you want or not have any treatment. Doctors should tell you everything and not sugar coat it. Most prostate cancer take 5 to 10 years to cause you a problem. There is only a 5 % of fast growing cancers. It is up to the man to research anything he is worried about and you have to be 100 % to have the surgery because you are the one that will have to deal with the side effect. Not your doctor he just moves on to the next patient

  • kenneth1955
    6 months ago

    Will thank you for your reply. What you said ” But I can assure you a sex life is possible after surgery including orgasm. But with any surgery you lose the ability to ejaculate I will not give that up. I do not care if I’m not having anymore kids. Doctors do not even consider it a function. They tell you that you don’t need it anymore. That is why when I had my BPH problems 4 years ago I had a Urolift because there were no side effects. I have had retro ejaculation when I was on some pills. It sucks That was before my procedure. You say never say never. Well I will never be talked into any procedure or treatment that will take that away from me. If I can’t find something to just get rid of the tumor only I will just die with it and live my life the way I want to. Have a great day. Ken

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