A-Z

Prostate Cancer

How prostate cancer affects you

There is no easy way to tell someone they have cancer. Some men recalled that the news was broken kindly and gently, while others perceived that they had been given the diagnosis rather brusquely, and one man felt shattered when he received the diagnosis over the telephone. Despite efforts by some consultants to break the news gently, most of the men said that they reacted with varying degrees of shock and a sense of disbelief.   
 

Explains how devastated he was and felt completely uniformed about the cancer.

View full profile
Age at interview: 65
Sex: Male
Age at diagnosis: 59
SHOW TEXT VERSION
PRINT TRANSCRIPT
I was absolutely devastated, they, there was no real information at all, I was basically told 'You've got prostate cancer, it's at an advanced stage,' I said 'Oh does that mean I'm going to die and how long have I got to live?' That was my initial reaction and they said 'Oh well we can't say, there's no way of knowing.' So I went home absolutely devastated.

 

Describes his initial shock but now how he focuses on the positive.

View full profile
Age at interview: 65
Sex: Male
Age at diagnosis: 63
SHOW TEXT VERSION
PRINT TRANSCRIPT
I've read quite recently that it is one of the most significant killers of men, outside lung cancer. And he was very good, he said 'Sit down,' and he explained that because I had come to him at this stage and my tumour was not too far advanced there was a very good chance of cure. If, well he was saying also the majority of men that he sees with prostate cancer are too far gone to be treated the treatment is only palliative so you know I was there with a pretty good chance of survival which is very encouraging of course. But still it's a devastating shock you know okay we're all mortal and we realise that the end will come at some stage. And I suppose as you get older you become more philosophical because your children have grown up, you look to the fulfilment of your life rather than the sort of negative side and you say well we've done well you know we, I feel I have a wonderful wife, a lovely family- I'm very fulfilled. So I had the feeling well you know death is something that we've all got to face you know there is nothing unique about dying in fact it's quite the reverse. But by the same token it is still a shock when you think it's round the corner. 

Some men had known they had a raised PSA level for some time, but nothing had prepared them for the eventual diagnosis. One man described his sense of isolation, fearing others would not understand his feelings and another man said that he reacted to the news of his cancer by going into a frenzy of activity, searching for the best treatment, and it was only later he felt somewhat depressed. Some men were very worried about their wives and families, particularly concerned about the financial implications of the diagnosis.
 

Describes his delayed shock but how much support he had from the professionals involved.

View full profile
Age at interview: 70
Sex: Male
Age at diagnosis: 69
SHOW TEXT VERSION
PRINT TRANSCRIPT
You shut down completely for a moment, I mean I've been living with the fact that I may have it for 4 or 5 years because of these high readings [PSA]. I was very aware that it could indicate a problem so it always was at the back of my mind but of course it's completely different when they tell you yes you have got it and it really shook me. But I don't think the impact hit me till a day or so later. But as I say I had a wonderful urologist he said 'Hold on a second,' he said 'you've got plenty of useful years here, you're not going to be in a box in 6 months here,' he said 'we can treat this, we can do things for you.'
 
 

Comments that his main concern was for his wife's well-being.

View full profile
Age at interview: 55
Sex: Male
Age at diagnosis: 54
SHOW TEXT VERSION
PRINT TRANSCRIPT
I was mostly concerned not with my own wellbeing I suppose but it was my wife I was more concerned about her, how if anything went wrong what would she do in this and that and financially as well. I'd just taken out another pension as well which I've cancelled now as I found it was not worthwhile to take out this pension in the end. So there's a lot of things go through your mind at the time, the financial one is one of them. Are you set up for, not for your wife, will I ever work again which at that time I didn't think I would be working again. But as you will find out later on, how things can change.

 

Describes his initial actions after being told.

View full profile
Age at interview: 56
Sex: Male
Age at diagnosis: 55
SHOW TEXT VERSION
PRINT TRANSCRIPT
It was nerve-wracking, everything went through your head. On the drive home from the hospital to home which is only about half an hour after being told what the surgeon thought it was you were going through, have you made your will, how is your wife going to cope financially, what have you done with the kids, should you do this, have you done that and that was morbid and you did begin to think all these things, you couldn't help it. And I just remember driving incredibly slowly thinking that you know I can beat the cancer but don't go stupid and forget how you're driving or come off the road because you're not thinking straight.

One man recalled that when he was given the diagnosis he was unbearable to live with for a couple of weeks because he could not accept that he had cancer. However, some men said that when they were first diagnosed with cancer they were optimistic about the chance of being cured. A definite diagnosis was better than endless uncertainty. One man, who had had a raised PSA value for a number of years, said that when he finally received the diagnosis he calmly assessed the situation, and another said that his faith helped him face up to the idea of death.
 

Describes his initial problems accepting the cancer but then how he became much more focused.

View full profile
Age at interview: 69
Sex: Male
Age at diagnosis: 63
SHOW TEXT VERSION
PRINT TRANSCRIPT
Going back to the Cancer Information Centre, this is when I first realised that I had cancer and I think for the first fortnight I was a bit unbearable to live with because I could not accept it myself, I didn't want to accept it. But I think after a period of a fortnight you sort of take yourself away and give yourself a damn good shake and say 'Come on get cracking and start living.' And we did, my wife and I went off to Canada on a holiday and it was a hell of a job to get the insurance but it was well worth doing it.

 

Suggests that there is no point being pessimistic.

View full profile
Age at interview: 71
Sex: Male
Age at diagnosis: 70
SHOW TEXT VERSION
PRINT TRANSCRIPT
Everybody was concerned naturally and you tend to look on the black side. But I've always been very positive and I feel that you know if there are things I can do then I will worry about doing them, if there are things I can't do then there's no point and I feel that we've done what we can do. The family knows the situation, we obviously will take steps to make sure that as far as possible things are put in their right place as it were. And the last thing I'm going to do is walk about wringing my hands and crying in my beer as it were because as I said if I can do something about it then I will worry about doing it but if I can't then what's the point.

 
Text onlyRead below

Explains how the diagnosis can act as a relief after continuing uncertainty.

View full profile
Age at interview: 56
Sex: Male
Age at diagnosis: 56
HIDE TEXT
PRINT TRANSCRIPT
Please could you tell me, what was the impact of the diagnosis on you and your family, only tell me what you want to say but it's something other patients might want to know.

I'm trying to think back to sum it up. Of course it's upsetting initially, particularly if you think you're very fit but I suppose it wasn't that much of a surprise because I'd been suspicious that something was wrong. And I suppose in a funny sort of way it was almost a relief to know what it was on the assumption that that is all that's wrong. We don't know necessarily that's entirely the case but it was something of a relief to have confirmation of the position rather than the sort of continuing uncertainty, and perhaps the worries that it could be something even worse.

 

Explains how he took one step at a time.

View full profile
Age at interview: 67
Sex: Male
Age at diagnosis: 66
SHOW TEXT VERSION
PRINT TRANSCRIPT
Well we thought mm it's arrived [laughs] it's been sort of coming all this while but now it's actually here and I wasn't driven into panic or anything, I mean although it was malignant, there was some malignancy there it was at the lowest possible level of threat so I thought oh well we'll have to take it a step at a time, see what these next tests reveal. There was always something more to do and one didn't feel that, I didn't feel that I had to take any drastic decisions about jumping this way or jumping that way until these further tests had been done. So I postponed my visit to India.

 

Explains how it is best to face matters and plan for the future.

View full profile
Age at interview: 66
Sex: Male
Age at diagnosis: 66
SHOW TEXT VERSION
PRINT TRANSCRIPT
I think there were positive aspects of this, shock, for me anyway, it was a shock to the family too, shock to my wife, particularly to my wife. It certainly sharpens up your life goals and you know you start getting your financial things in order and you have some idea of probabilities. I'm used to working in probabilities so I'm never expecting certainty in this life but nonetheless it gives you some feel for how you might get on. 

Yes well when it was diagnosed definitely cancer there, well I suspected it. But my own point of view at this age, I mean I'm not really worried about that, you face up to death and so on and I've had to think about that a lot in my life beforehand anyway and I have a faith that helps in that respect.

Side effects of various treatments also affected men’s lives. Some men said that treatment had made them feel very tired (see Lack of Energy).

Other men said that hormone treatment had affected their sense of masculinity. Most men who had treatment without hormones reported limited sexual function, but they did not talk about this affecting their sense of masculinity. In contrast, the men who had long-term hormone treatment reported that they had lost their interest in sex and felt changed, not only physically but also psychologically- the treatment had affected their sense of masculinity (see Impotence).
   

Last reviewed July 2017.
Last updated January 2010
donate
Previous Page
Next Page