Prostate Cancer and Your Mental Health -- Part II
Read Part I of Prostate Cancer and Your Mental Health.
One of the downsides of modern life is that fountain of all knowledge: the internet. Great in some ways, but it also has a dark side in that not all information is accurate and reliable. Adding to the complexities, we all have very individual cases and need to have our treatments aligned with our health cases. With all the information out there, it can be challenging to decide how we want to proceed. All these things add to the stress of diagnosis and can for many people affect our mental health.
The impact of treatment decisions
Once you get over the shock of the diagnosis, the next hurdle is finding your treatment options. Depending on your chosen route, the complexities of your case will closely link to how you may react. After that is hopefully recovery and dealing with any knock-on effects of treatment. Several common treatments may affect your bladder control, cause erectile dysfunction, and lead to other things which can really hit us as men.
Treatment often concentrates on treating the cancer, but is not always good afterward when dealing with the after effects. While this may not be due to a lack of options, many men are often too embarrassed to talk about it or seek help. This can have knock-on effects to relationships as we get more stressed about the situation, and things could start to spiral out of control. This can have a detrimental effect on the relationship both physically and mentally if you can’t talk about it.
Learning to talk about the challenges
We really need to start learning to talk about these things and asking for help when we need it. It’s not a sign of weakness and can in many cases resolve many situations and also find solutions to the problems. Not everyone will suffer in this way, and a positive attitude will always help. I managed to keep a positive outlook, talked things through with partners, doctors and specialists, and found coping strategies to get through these issues.
For me personally, I had some dark nights in the beginning. But once I had received treatment, I kept an open view and made the conscious decision not to let anything get me down. For the record, I had non-nerve sparing robotic surgery coming up to 4 years ago.
Dealing with sexual side effects
I still have some leakage, but I have coping measures for that so it’s not a problem. On the ED side, I have gone through the options available to me of pump and ring. That serves a purpose but was not particularly practical for the purpose we all desire. Caverject injections were again not great, requiring 30 mg to be functional, but would last up to 3 1/2 hours and felt like it was going to explode!
I believe in the US you can have your chemist mix the injection, which omits the ingredient that causes much of the discomfort. One of the biggest impacts I found with injections was I needed to plan ahead; the spontaneity had been lost on my part. If I got it wrong, I would be left with a painful erection for the next 3 1/2 hours, which could lead into the small hours.
After going back to the specialist, he recommended I cut back on the injection dose and use the pump and ring as well! Well, that just wasn’t going to help, so I struggled on. Then about 6 months or so ago, I had a discussion with my doctor and asked if I could try Viagra. My thought was if it can help in any way with increasing the blood flow, it may help me reduce my injection dose.
To my great surprise, it worked, but it worked all on its own without any injection. It shouldn’t after non-sparing surgery, but it does and I am not going to complain.
Have you experienced side effects from androgen deprivation therapy (ADT)?