Originally published 10/15/2013
In re-reading the blog below, one of the earliest on our website, it was reassuring to know that the advice we posted then is still valid now. In the nearly 8 years since then, many of our subsequent blogs address individual items on the list, particularly Number 6 on taking care of yourself (nutrition, exercise, and stress management) with key elements that we’ve enlarged upon.
At this time, I want to add a topic concerning the doctor you choose for your prostate health: Item 11 should read: Work with an experienced doctor who specializes in prostate cancer (interventional radiologist or urologist) and whose relationship style meshes well with your own.
When coping with a prostate cancer diagnosis and treatment decisions, the last thing you want is finding yourself frustrated with or disconnected from your physician. Just as coping styles vary, so do personality preferences. Some patients prefer a doctor whom they perceive as a wise leader who will steer their direction, while other patients are more comfortable with a patient-centered “team member” who acknowledges greater patient control and mutual participation.
In today’s world, doctors recognize that patients shop around for a physician about whom they have a good gut feeling, in addition to being knowledgeable about treatment choices. A diagnosis of prostate cancer is nothing you want to dally around with, but it’s worth taking the time to find a doctor in whom you have full confidence. Patients cope much better when they not only trust their doctor’s knowledge, but also connect with another human in whom they can place their personal trust. As Goold & Lipkin write, “The doctor–patient relationship is critical for vulnerable patients as they experience a heightened reliance on the physician’s competence, skills, and good will.”[i]
It’s human nature to do certain things to be able to cope and manage difficult situations. Coping styles vary — from a sense of spirituality to talking to a therapist to distractions via work or hobbies. Although these strategies are inherently different from one another, they all have a common purpose, that is to help you regain strength and comfort after your prostate cancer diagnosis.
At the Sperling Prostate Center, we encourage our patients to practice the following strategies to help cope with prostate cancer:
1. Be informed. A lot of our patients feel calm and in control when they actively seek information.
2. Write down everything that worries you. Afterwards, identify practical steps that could help you deal with these worries.
3. Talk about your feelings rather than blocking out or fighting negative thoughts.
4. Evaluate your response to what’s happening to you. You may be surprise to find out that you’re actually being negative the whole time.
5. Identify and obtain support — from talking to family members to joining support groups.
6. Take good care of yourself, including avoiding activities that easily stresses you out, adhering to a diet that will help you improve your prostate health, and finding time to engage in physical activity every day.
7. Take time out and engage in leisurely activities.
8. Remind yourself that it’s perfectly okay to be uncertain of the future. Don’t expect to have everything all figured out.
9. Realize that you are not alone. Read on other people’s experiences with prostate cancer and how they’ve dealt with it.
10. Draw on your past experiences for strength. Recall those times when you had to overcome a tough situation. Recall those strategies you did to overcome such difficulties and figure out if they can be applied to your current situation.
11. (A 2021 update) Work with an experienced doctor who specializes in prostate cancer (interventional radiologist or urologist) and whose relationship style meshes well with your own.
NOTE: This content is solely for purposes of information and does not substitute for diagnostic or medical advice. Talk to your doctor if you are experiencing pelvic pain, or have any other health concerns or questions of a personal medical nature.
[i] Goold SD, Lipkin M Jr. The Doctor–Patient Relationship: Challenges, Opportunities, and Strategies. J Gen Intern Med. 1999 Jan; 14(Suppl 1): S26–S33.