The burden of a prostate cancer diagnosis, treatment, dealing with side effects, and the anxiety of follow-up can be quite difficult for men going through this process. There are many ways that men may get through this challenging time in their life: relying on a spouse/partner, family, friends (particularly those who may have gone through a similar journey), and places of worship, to name a few. Above all else, it cannot be understated that you are not alone in this journey.
In the United States, there are more than 3 million prostate cancer survivors — men just like you who have been or are going through the prostate cancer journey. As such, there is a community of men who understand the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual feelings you are going through — many of whom are willing to help by sharing their experiences, offering support, and answering questions. This community of prostate cancer survivors makes up the foundation of prostate cancer support groups all across the country.
The purpose of prostate cancer support groups is to bring together people with similar experiences to share their frustrations, concerns, and fears, and to minimize feelings of isolation. By spending time with men who have been through similar experiences, you may feel better, be more hopeful, and not feel so alone. Even with phenomenal support from a spouse/partner, friends, and family, being part of a support group allows you to share feelings, and vent with men who are also going through prostate cancer diagnosis and treatment. Further, as you navigate this new experience, patient support groups offer the opportunity to learn from the experiences of men who have been through this process before.
Here are several additional reasons why you should consider joining a prostate cancer support group:
- Gain camaraderie and support
- Become empowered to face your diagnosis and your treatment
- Improve your understanding of prostate cancer treatment and side effects
- Get practical feedback about treatment options
- Feel less anxiety and depressive feelings
- Learn coping skills and gain tools to deal with stress and be able to adjust to your changing health
- Talk openly about your feelings and fears
Although most major cancer centers will have a prostate cancer support group, many men may not have that luxury. Also, it is important to be careful in participating in unauthorized online patient forums. This is not just for personal security purposes, but also to avoid disinformation that may cause undue anxiety or stress. The following are reputable websites/organizations that offer prostate cancer support groups and/or resources for men with prostate cancer:
- Cancer Patient Voices: Listen to men who have gone through prostate cancer diagnosis and treatment share their experiences
- Prostate Cancer Foundation: PCF offers several private, moderated support groups on Facebook for different interests and needs. These include prostate cancer and veterans; newly diagnosed prostate cancer; prostate cancer caregivers; metastatic prostate cancer; prostate cancer survivors; prostate cancer and gay, bisexual, and transgender women; prostate cancer and African American men; prostate cancer and active surveillance; prostate cancer and men diagnosed under the age of 50; and prostate cancer and family survivors.
- ZERO: The End of Prostate Cancer
- Male Care
- Imerman Angels
- CancerCare: CancerCare offers a 15-week online support group for people diagnosed with prostate cancer who are currently receiving treatment. This initiative is led by an oncology social worker and takes place using a password-protected message board format.