Do prostate cancer patients get “distracted” by all the treatment options, misconceptions, and advice of friends? You bet!

Keep your eye on the prize and don’t be distracted by digging for sticks and scooting a bumper….(oh I’m sorry that’s Penelope and Baby Breeder).
Make decisions based on your disease specifics and details peculiar to you and your family. Misconceptions are only one of the distractions…

From “The Decision”

Misconceptions abound as well about the male that has prostate cancer. All of the half-truths that might impede the diagnosis in males are now attributed to the male that has it and has been treated. Let me explain. I was a bit different in how I handled the news that I had prostate cancer compared to most patients and probably differently from you. I did not tell many people; I had emotional difficulty telling my children and did not want it announced at church, like you hear so often during prayer concerns. I personally felt that I was dealing with the diagnosis of cancer fairly well, but that retelling it to others would be difficult for me. I have been that way all my life; my aunt Betsy once said to me, “It’s a Davis family trait John, your grandfather would cry at the drop of a hat.” I had this fear of becoming emotional in telling my children the news so I delayed doing anything for several weeks and finally decided I’d send an email. I used as the subject line, “dad’s got a new gig.” In my email I rambled on and only implied that I had cancer (“the biopsy showed something”), but reassured them that I would be O.K. It was a very difficult time for me; I was more concerned about how they would feel about their dad having cancer than the threat that I would not do well. As I have previously mentioned, I kept having the sensation and feeling that somehow I had let all of my family down. When they called to ask what in the world I was talking about in my cryptic email, my wife did all the explaining. For about a month I did not answer the phone; the thought of telling one of my children that I had cancer was something I just could not do. It took weeks before I could talk of it without my eyes welling up. It was embarrassing. My wife was absolutely beautiful and strong through this, explaining “my situation” to all family members that would call inquiring about me as if I was not home, although I’d be there next to her in our den. I did tell a female friend with whom I teach youth Sunday school about a month or so after my diagnosis. She had had breast cancer, and I felt almost guilty that I had not told her. Once she knew, she would ask each Sunday when was I going to do something about the cancer. After about two months of this questioning each Sunday, she exasperatedly said to me in the parking lot outside the church, “John, go get your prostate cancer treated; you’ll have sex again!” I thought it was an odd remark at the time, but I suppose she thought my delay in making a decision was a “male thing.” In retrospect there may have been some truth and intuition in her observation, a “woman thing.” This remark then began a new era of issues for me surrounding the misconceptions of others in their understanding of what happens to you when you’ve been treated for prostate cancer. It is a reverse misconception, so to speak, not about the male’s understanding of prostate cancer, but others’ misconceptions about someone who has been treated. I began to wonder, are she and others thinking that I will be impotent and incontinent? As hard as the decision is, this added element, particularly in a relatively young man, adds to the stress of dealing with the purely medical issues of prostate cancer. In many ways the treatment of prostate cancer is a “male mastectomy.” In a female there is the emotional trauma of having breast cancer and treatments that can disfigure the body; in the male there is no disfiguration that you can see, but treatment of the prostate effects the quality of how you void and achieve erections, and of course the constant awareness that cancer may not be curable. This does somewhat eat at your maleness, and knowledge of these risks complicates the decision.

One Reply to “Do prostate cancer patients get “distracted” by all the treatment options, misconceptions, and advice of friends? You bet!”

  1. Thank you for sharing doc.
    I am about eleven weeks into pos-op of having removal by cyber knife surgery and there are so many questions I have and that my urologist did not address, and I guess I was too naive to ask.
    I know there are support groups a plenty and I will joining one soon.
    Thanks again doc.


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