A prostate cancer diagnosis impacts both you and your partner. Although you are the one whose body is being attacked by cancer cells, the diagnosis is shocking and frightening for your partner, too. You are both under enormous stress and usually experiencing the same tidal wave of emotions, including the devastating fear that you might die, and fear of how whatever treatment you choose will affect both your work life and your intimate life.
As you struggle to cope with selecting the best treatment, and to get a handle on your own fears, maintaining good communication with your partner is essential for both your sakes. Most men are conditioned not to talk about their fears, and you may fall into the trap of trying to remain upbeat, of hiding how threatened and anxious you really feel.
While it is helpful to remain as positive as you can, it is even more important to talk openly and honestly with your partner about the potentially devastating psychological and emotional consequences, as well as the life changing physical consequences of your prostate cancer treatment, and about how it is going to affect your relationship. And if one of your main fears is of becoming impotent, it may be helpful for you to understand to know that the physical side of your relationship is seldom as huge an issue for your partner.
There are many ways in which your partner can help you besides giving you love and support. Having someone who cares at your side at the doctor’s office, listening to the many complex treatment options and being able to discuss with you afterwards the risks and undesirable side effects. is enormously helpful. Just be aware that it helps your partner, too, to be involved in the choices you make.
Your partner can help you decide which doctor should perform your treatment, drive you to doctor’s appointments, and pick up any medications you need at the pharmacy. Record keeping is another important task your partner can help with—by keeping a folder at home with all your test results, reports and X-rays, so that if you need to consult another doctor for a second opinion you will have everything you need to take with you. Your partner can also help you gently break the news to your family that you have prostate cancer and what your diagnosis means.
So if you are one of those guys who think that asking your partner for help is somehow "unmanly," get over it! You don’t do any favors to someone you love by pretending that you’re feeling fine when you’re not. Ask for any help you need and you and your partner will both benefit. You are in this together.