The Extra Glass
In case you have not noticed, there is a lot of stress going around lately. And if you want to add more variety to your personal stress level, just know that your TV will gladly oblige. In a matter of minutes, you will find a variety of subjects ranging from pandemics to politics to personal relations and more.
Prostate cancer and the pandemic
Today almost everything in our world appears to have been redesigned to put our emotions on the raw edge.
Now layer on top of that “stress cake” the icing that you are on a personal journey with prostate cancer. Perhaps you have been recently diagnosed. Perhaps you have been told you need to wait for treatment and are struggling with the fact that prostate cancer is slow-moving and may not require immediate treatment.
Missing human connections
Then again you may be in the middle of a treatment protocol and now find you need to be wearing masks as you enter the care center. You are asked the same questions over and over as your temperature is scanned. And when you finally encounter your health providers, everyone is masked and gloved, and you never see a reassuring smile.
A fellow I know was recently diagnosed with prostate cancer. From the time he was referred to a surgeon and underwent a prostatectomy, he never saw the real face of his surgeon except online. While you can develop some type of relationship with a masked man and his robot, there is nothing like seeing your surgeon’s face in a real meeting.
Because we are human, we like to imagine we are in control of our lives. We go to school, we learn trades, and we make decisions that hopefully will impact our future and the lives of those we love. We work every day and like to believe we are on a planned path and will at some point reach a desired goal. Then comes a cancer diagnosis.
Perhaps you have come to a point where you now accept that you have prostate cancer and are determined to treat it. Then along comes the new and added stress of a pandemic. Perhaps you have been furloughed from your job. Perhaps the vacation you planned to take has been canceled, or your favorite restaurant is now closed. Stress just keeps building.
Watching alcohol intake
As a prostate cancer survivor or patient amid this stress, you might ask, “is there anything I can control in my life?” For some, the buildup of stress is a reminder that you can at least experiment with a new cocktail recipe, or you may decide to have a few extra glasses of wine.
While it can be unlikely that a person will fall into an alcohol use disorder if they've never drank before, stress-induced alcohol consumption may pose a serious risk for those who have enjoyed casual drinking in the past.
Nationally alcohol use has been up since last March.1 While increased consumption typically tends to rise during wars and natural disasters, the current pandemic has impacted (stressed out) almost every person on the planet.
While cutting yourself some slack because of the crazy times we are in may be OK for a while, it also may not be a bad idea to establish some benchmarks for yourself as we move forward.
Alcohol consumption is not always your best friend when it comes to cancer. Now is as good a time as any to reexamine your food and beverage consumption habits. While that trip to a Mediterranean beach resort may not be possible right now, just remember you can always go on a Mediterranean diet and imagine the rest.
Do you feel heard and understood by your doctor?