Patient tips 10 tips that helped me respond to a prostate cancer diagnosis

10 tips that helped me respond to a prostate cancer diagnosis

Army veteran Donald W. was diagnosed with stage 2B prostate cancer at 53 years old—just a month after losing his father to the disease. He underwent robotic surgery at City of Hope to remove his prostate. Now, he’s sharing his tips on how to navigate a prostate cancer diagnosis and get the information you need to make decisions about your treatment options.

  1. Take a step back to process. I approached the situation calmly and logically knowing that prostate cancer is either aggressive or slow growing.
  2. Don’t be rushed in your decision. I evaluated all my medical options and got a second opinion from another medical expert who wasn’t affiliated with the same practice as the physician who provided the initial diagnosis or treatment recommendations. The second opinion gave me reassurance I was diagnosed correctly and provided the best treatment recommendation for me.
  3. Know your options. I asked for all possible options for treatment. I wanted to know if this required immediate action or if I had time to make a decision. Know that watchful waiting or active surveillance may be viable options.
  4. Do your research. I researched all treatment options and the side effects of every treatment, then I dug into the side effects that could affect my quality of life—including erectile dysfunction and incontinence. The potential impact on my quality of life was important to me.
  5. Research your care team and their credentials. Once I chose my treatment option, I researched the physician who would be performing the procedure, his skill level and his experience specific to the procedure I had. I wanted to know how many procedures he had performed and his level of success.
  6. Lean on your loved ones. I recognized early on that my cancer diagnosis affected my close family members and friends, too. I knew their support for me was very important to my healing. Don’t shut down and close your loved ones out when you will need them the most.
  7. Find a mentor. I relied on fellow prostate cancer patients and Army veterans who I knew and learned a great deal from them. They were supportive and were there to help me through this crisis. I also volunteered with several organizations to help other men down the line grappling with a prostate cancer diagnosis.
  8. Don’t be scared of support groups. I started a support group and attended support groups, both in person and online. I wanted to get other people's firsthand perspectives on what they experienced. As a result, I gained a wealth of knowledge I wouldn’t have known otherwise.
  9. Be an empowered patient. Managing prostate cancer is a battle, and you must be committed. I found that I had to invest time and energy to make informed choices about treatments. I learned a cancer diagnosis isn’t a death sentence. Knowing this helped me to manage expectations and be prepared for what the future may hold.
  10. Develop a plan of attack. I researched many different hospitals and cancer centers to find the best medical team for me. I wanted a chance to be able to fight back with the support of my spouse and loved ones. I learned how to develop my treatment plan, then reviewed it with my mentors as well as my spiritual, psychological and medical care teams. Lastly, I learned after my treatment was finished that it was possible to remain active, heal, maintain my strength and live a long and productive life.

A cancer journey can be overwhelming.

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