When a man is diagnosed with prostate cancer his family and friends can be left feeling helpless. This feeling is only worsened if you live far away – but there are plenty of ways you can help. Here are some ideas to help you get started.
1. Deal with your own feelings first
Prostate cancer not only affects men – it affects their loved ones too. If your loved one has prostate cancer it is natural to feel shaken up about it, but you also need to stand strong for them. Make sure you deal with your own feelings appropriately for your own health and so you don’t accidently offload to the person with the illness.
2. Just talk
If they are up for it, calling each weekend or on a particular night during the week can lift the spirits of someone with prostate cancer. Be mindful that some nights they may be tired and just not be in the mood to talk.
3.Seek to understand
Tiredness and anxiety are common reactions to a prostate cancer diagnosis. Seeking to understand that fatigue, emotional strain and feeling ill can lead to mood swings will help you cope better and therefore be stronger for your dad, brother or friend.
4. Send flowers to their partner
Wives and partners of men with prostate cancer need support too. Sending them a card or flowers can be very encouraging and brighten up their day.
5. Pull together a support group
Even though you are far away, there’s no reason why you can’t help pull together a support group of people close to your loved one. Doctor’s appointments can be very daunting for a man coping with prostate cancer.
Making sure there is someone close to your dad, brother or friend that can offer to go to doctor’s appointments with them can make it that little bit easier.
6. Treat them to dinner
You might not be able to cook dinner for a far away loved one; but you can give them a break from cooking through online ordering. There are a number of businesses that allow you to purchase gift vouchers for meal delivery – TLC meals (Sydney, Melbourne, Gold Coast), Gourmet Dinner Service ( Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Canberra and the coastal cities of NSW and QLD) and Send a Meal (America).
If money is an issue you might like to try organising a fundraising event. It doesn’t have to be a big deal – you could simply set up an Everyday Hero or Facebook page and website where people can donate funds. You could even offer people rewards for their contribution e.g. free music lessons, free art lesson, business advice etc.
8. Help them fight the boredom
If your loved one needs to have chemo or a prostate operation they may be unable to do a lot of the things they enjoy while recovering. Although a lot of the recovery period will involve sleeping, there might be some times where boredom creeps in. Send a thoughtful gift that you know they love and will help fight the boredom.
9. Don’t forget to say ‘I love you’
The words ‘I love you’ tell someone they are supported, cared for and not alone. Actions show love but don’t forget to actually say the words too.
10. Don’t be afraid to be humourous where appropriate
They say laughter is the best medicine – and the truth is it can make a difference. Laughter helps relieve stress and contributes to a positive attitude. Obviously there are times where humour isn’t appropriate, but be ready to laugh with your loved one when the time is right.
Being away from your dad, brother, friend or grandad when they are sick can be one of the hardest things you will experience. Remember that even if you are far away you can still be there for them in a big way.
If you would like to get in touch with a prostate cancer support group you can find one close to you through the Prostate Cancer Foundation website or one of their international partners.