For the boys

Encouraging men to open up about prostate cancer: A guide for families

June 2, 2024 Word for Word Media 0Comment

Robert Teunissen explores strategies to help men be open about their prostate cancer and offers families simple approaches to support their loved ones through this challenging journey.

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Prostate cancer is a significant health concern that affects many men worldwide. Despite its prevalence, men often find it challenging to discuss their prostate cancer experiences openly. This reluctance to talk about it can stem from various factors, including stigma, fear, and a lack of awareness.

However, creating a supportive environment where men feel comfortable discussing their prostate cancer can have profound benefits for their mental and emotional well-being. One of the reasons men may hesitate to talk about prostate cancer is the fear of being perceived as weak or vulnerable. Society often places unrealistic expectations on men to be stoic and unemotional, which can make it difficult for men to express their feelings openly.

To address this barrier, family members can play a crucial role in creating a safe and non-judgmental space for their loved ones to share their thoughts and emotions. By actively listening and showing empathy, family members can help men feel supported and understood. Thus, encouraging them to open up about their experience.

The toolkit

Supportive questions can be powerful tools for initiating conversations. Instead of asking generic questions, such as How are you feeling? or Are you okay? pose more specific open-ended questions that invite deeper reflection and discussion. For example, Can you tell me more about how you’re coping with your diagnosis?or What are your main concerns or fears regarding your treatment? These can prompt men to share their thoughts and concerns more openly. By asking thoughtful and empathetic questions, family members can demonstrate genuine interest in understanding their loved one’s experience and offer valuable emotional support.

Active listening is essential when discussing prostate cancer with men. Family members should practise attentive listening, which involves giving their full attention to the person speaking without interrupting or imposing their own opinions. Through active listening, family members can show empathy and validation for their loved one’s feelings, fostering a sense of trust and openness in the conversation. This approach can help men feel more comfortable expressing their emotions and concerns, knowing that they have a supportive and understanding family by their side.

Moreover, family members can provide practical support by helping with daily tasks, accompanying them to medical appointments, and researching treatment options.

By actively participating in their loved one’s care, family members can demonstrate their commitment and solidarity in helping them navigate the challenges of prostate cancer.

Additionally, engaging in activities together, such as exercise, relaxation techniques, or hobbies can help strengthen family bonds and promote overall well-being for both the man with prostate cancer and his family members.

A safe space is imperative

In conclusion, creating an open and supportive environment where men feel comfortable discussing their prostate cancer is crucial for their emotional well-being and overall health. By using supportive questions, practising active listening, and offering practical assistance, families can play a pivotal role in encouraging men to open up about their prostate cancer experience. Through empathy, understanding, and solidarity, families can provide invaluable support to their loved ones, helping them navigate the complexities of prostate cancer with strength and resilience.

Robert Teunissen

Robert Teunissen is a retired clinical psychologist and a prostate cancer survivor.

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This article is sponsored by Astellas Oncology in the interest of education, awareness and support. The content and opinions expressed are entirely the healthcare professional’s own work and not influenced by Astellas in any way.


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