How to Support Your Partner During Prostate Cancer Treatment
Prostate cancer doesn’t just affect the man diagnosed; the disease’s impact also extends to his partner, children, parents, and friends. As the partner of a man with prostate cancer, it can be hard to know how to respond and what to do to support your other half through his treatment and beyond. The diagnosis itself is terrifying for many partners. Physical and emotional healing after treatment can take a long time, and side effects may linger.
If your partner is diagnosed with prostate cancer, you can offer both practical and emotional support by gathering information, being present for doctor’s appointments, and encouraging your partner to get plenty of rest, eat right, and take good care of himself. You should know what to expect following your partner’s diagnosis. Don’t forget to take care of yourself, too.
Give Your Partner Practical Support
One of the most important things you can do as the partner of a man going through or about to begin prostate cancer treatment is to offer practical support. This means accompanying your partner to doctor’s appointments and treatment sessions, as long as he’s amenable to it. Ask questions, make notes, and be an advocate for your partner during his treatment. Often, you’ll pick up on things that your partner may have been too distracted to notice. Your partner may also need help with transportation, scheduling, filing insurance claims, and other mundane tasks related to treatment.
You can also help your partner by communicating with others in his life about his diagnosis. Many men prefer to keep a diagnosis of prostate cancer private, but if your partner wants to reveal his diagnosis and treatment progress to others close to him, he may need you to do the talking. Be prepared to help your partner talk with loved ones about his prostate cancer.
Be There for Your Partner Emotionally
Prostate cancer and its treatment can leave emotional wounds as well as physical ones. Encourage your partner to discuss his feelings with you, but don’t be pushy about it. Remind him that he’s not less of a man because of prostate cancer, and that it can take some time for him to begin to feel like his old self again.
Know What to Expect
Knowing what to expect after a prostate cancer diagnosis can make it easier for both of you to cope. Depending on the treatment, your partner may face side effects including:
- Temporary or ongoing erectile dysfunction
- Low sex drive
- Weight gain and muscle loss
- Hot flashes
- Brittle bones
- Urinary incontinence or bowel problems
Sometimes prostate cancer treatment can cause cognitive changes, too, including memory problems and trouble concentrating. Radiosurgery treatment through CyberKnife will leave patients with fewer side effects.
Take Care of Yourself
You won’t be able to support your partner if you allow yourself to become emotionally depleted, so take care of yourself, too. In addition to eating right, exercising, and getting plenty of sleep, take time for the hobbies you enjoy and the other people and things you love. Spend time with friends, talking about things other than your partner’s prostate cancer. Set aside time to relax each day.
It’s not easy supporting a partner who’s going through prostate cancer treatment. You can help by handling many of the mundane tasks associated with managing medical care, and by offering your partner a kind ear. Facing prostate cancer takes courage, but the two of you will win out in the end.
Could Home Remedies Help With Your Trigeminal Neuralgia Pain?
Trigeminal neuralgia can cause what some sufferers have described as blinding pain in the cheek, jaw, forehead, eye, and teeth on one side of the face. Pain can affect both sides of the face, but this is very rare and pain symptoms will affect only one side of the face at a time. The shooting pains have been likened to an electrical shock and an episode of trigeminal neuralgia pain can last up to two minutes.
Trigeminal neuralgia treatment often involves medications or surgery. Stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT) can treat trigeminal neuralgia pain in a safe and non-invasive way by damaging the nerve responsible for the pain. It can take several weeks for SBRT to effectively relieve pain and symptoms can recur — although if necessary, SBRT can easily be repeated to achieve a more complete treatment. While you’re waiting for treatment to take full effect, you can try some home remedies to try and reduce trigeminal neuralgia pain by using heat, cold, or pressure.
Apply Heat or Cold to the Painful Area
Many people find relief from trigeminal neuralgia pain by applying heat to the affected area. You can do this locally by pressing a hot water bottle or other hot compress to the painful spot. Heat a beanbag or warm a wet washcloth in the microwave for this purpose. You can also try taking a hot shower or bath. If one is available, sit in a hot sauna.
Cold may also help relieve the pain, although you’ll obviously want to avoid this remedy if you’re one of the many trigeminal neuralgia sufferers for whom cold triggers symptoms. But if you think applying cold to the affected area might help relieve your symptoms until you can get SBRT or while you’re waiting for it to take effect, you can use an ice pack wrapped in a thin towel or pillowcase to numb the painful area. Keep the cold in contact with the affected area for about 30 seconds or until the area begins to feel numb. Some trigeminal neuralgia sufferers find that switching between the hot and cold compresses helps more.
Apply Pressure to the Painful Area
While many people find that a light touch — often as light as a gentle breeze wafting over their skin — can trigger trigeminal neuralgia symptoms, they also find that applying pressure to the area can help relieve symptoms. Use your entire hand to press on the affected area. You may need to apply a reasonable amount of pressure in order to get results.
Know Your Triggers
The more you know about what triggers your trigeminal neuralgia pain, the better equipped you’ll be to avoid those triggers and completely escape painful symptoms more often. Some common triggers include eating, talking, brushing teeth, cold, and light touches to the face. Things you wouldn’t expect can trigger trigeminal neuralgia pain, too. One woman reported that peppermint candy triggered her symptoms. If you can’t figure out what’s causing your pain, it may be helpful to keep a pain diary in which you record key details of your environment and activity in order to look for common threads among different symptom flare-ups.
While home remedies may not be capable of completely curing trigeminal neuralgia symptoms, they can be very useful for people who are waiting for treatment or who still have to make it through the recovery period in which symptoms gradually recede after SBRT. No matter where you fall on the spectrum, you’ll be glad to experience relief from your trigeminal neuralgia pain.
Quit Smoking to Improve Your Prostate Cancer Treatment Outcomes
According to the results of a new study, men who smoke during prostate cancer treatment are not only more likely to experience treatment side effects, they’re also more likely to experience a recurrence or even die from prostate cancer.
While men who have never smoked before in their lives run the least risk of experiencing prostate cancer treatment side effects, cancer recurrence, or death, the study found that even men who quit smoking right before beginning cancer treatment enjoyed better treatment outcomes than those who continued smoking throughout treatment.
Smoking Makes Prostate Cancer Treatment Less Effective
The study, performed by researchers from New York City’s Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and published in the journal BJU International, examined the effects of smoking history among a group of 2,358 patients who received external beam radiotherapy for prostate cancer between 1988 and 2005. 2,156 of the study participants had some kind of smoking history. Researchers divided the patients into four categories: never smokers, current smokers, former smokers, and current smoking status unknown. Even those participants who quit smoking right before beginning prostate cancer treatment were included in the “former smoker” category.
The researchers followed up with the study participants eight years after they received treatment. They found that patients who smoked during the cancer treatment had a 40 percent higher risk of relapse. Those who smoked during treatment were also twice as likely to experience prostate cancer metastasis and to die from prostate cancer, when compared to those who had never smoked.
Patients who were considered former smokers under the terms of the study also had a slightly elevated risk of cancer recurrence, metastasis, and death, but their risks were somewhat lower than those of patients who smoked throughout cancer treatment. Ten years later, only about 52 percent of patients who smoked throughout treatment had not suffered a recurrence of prostate cancer, while 63 percent of former smokers and 66 percent of never smokers were still in the clear.
While today’s patients can choose from a far wider range of prostate cancer treatment options, external beam radiotherapy remains one of the oldest treatments for the disease. There is no reason to believe that the impact of smoking on the efficacy of other prostate cancer treatments, like stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT), would be any different than its impact on the efficacy of external beam radiotherapy. The study authors believe that smoking could contribute to the formation of more aggressive cancer tumors. They also speculate that smoking during cancer treatment could interfere with treatment by lowering oxygen levels within tumor cells, making them less susceptible to the effects of radiation.
In addition to an enhanced risk of cancer recurrence, metastasis, and death, current and former smokers involved in the study also experienced a greater risk of a range of urinary side effects. These side effects included urinary incontinence, urinary toxicity, bladder hemorrhage, and urinary retention.
If you want to improve your chances of a good treatment outcome for prostate cancer, you might want to consider quitting smoking. While researchers don’t yet fully understand the relationship between smoking and prostate cancer, new evidence suggests that smoking during treatment can make treatment less effective. If you’re a smoker who’s already been diagnosed with prostate cancer, it’s not too late — quitting smoking can still make a difference, even if you do it right before you start treatment.
Can a Prostate Cancer Diet Improve Your Treatment Outcome?
Nutrition is always important when you’re going through cancer treatment, whether it’s for prostate cancer or another kind of cancer. But there’s some evidence to suggest that eating certain foods may increase the risk that your prostate cancer will grow or spread, while eating other foods may help to keep your prostate cancer in check.
In general, you should avoid red meat and eat a diet low in calories and fat. Some specific foods you can eat to help improve your prostate cancer treatment outcome includes fish, soy, tomatoes, cruciferous vegetables, poultry, liver, and pomegranate juice. Let’s take a look at some of the dietary guidelines that can help you overcome prostate cancer.
What You Should Eat During Prostate Cancer Treatment
You should eat a generally healthy diet and limit your consumption of alcohol while you receive prostate cancer treatment. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, including:
- Tomatoes, especially cooked or processed
- Brazil nuts
- Sweet potatoes
- Cruciferous vegetables like cauliflower, kale, broccoli, and cabbage
- Pomegranates and pomegranate juice
- Citrus fruits
- Berries, especially blueberries and raspberries
These foods contain plenty of antioxidants, polyphenols, and other substances shown to fight cancer. You should also eat plenty of vegetable protein in the form of beans and legumes. According to WebMD, a traditional Japanese-style diet that is high in soy, green tea, and oily fish can help you fight prostate cancer. Alternatively, you may switch to a more Mediterranean-style diet, and begin eating more fruits, vegetables, grains, garlic, olive oil, fish, poultry, and red wine. Drink plenty of water and green tea. Eat whole foods as much as possible.
Some Foods Can Hold Your Treatment Back
Just as there are some foods that can complement your prostate cancer treatment, there are also some foods that may encourage the spread of prostate cancer and make treatment less effective. Minimize your consumption of these foods while you’re going through prostate cancer treatment, or avoid them altogether:
- Flax seed or flax seed oil, which can cause prostate cancer to grow
- Canola, corn, or soybean oils
- Red meat
- Excessive amounts of dairy products, since calcium can cause prostate cancer to spread
- Pickled, salted, or otherwise preserved foods
- Burned, toasted, or charred foods
- Fried foods
- Foods that contain trans fatty acids
- Sugary foods
While your body will still need some fat in order to function properly, you should keep your fat intake to a minimum during prostate cancer treatment. Quit smoking, if you haven’t already, and make sure to get plenty of sleep and exercise regularly. The better you care for your body’s physical and nutritional needs, the better you will be able to fight prostate cancer.
If you’re going through prostate cancer treatment, certain foods may make it easier to overcome the disease. Eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, fish, soy, olive oil, grains, and poultry. Drink a little red wine once in a while. Eating a healthy diet can help you look and feel your best during and after treatment.
How to Get Back to Normal After Cancer Treatment Ends
As you approach the end of your cancer treatment, you probably can’t wait for things to get back to normal. But returning to a normal way of life takes time. Often, the side effects of treatment can last for several months after treatment ends, especially if you’ve had chemotherapy or traditional radiation treatment. You may also experience lasting emotional effects of cancer treatment, due to the stress of the experience. It’s important to know what to expect and how to cope.
Be Aware of the Late Effects of Cancer Treatment
Late effects of cancer treatment are those effects that appear after treatment ends. They may occur weeks, months, or even years after your treatment has ended, and they’re not always predictable. Some late effects go away after awhile, while others are more lasting.
You should talk to your cancer treatment team about any potential late effects you can expect to experience, especially since these effects can vary depending on what treatment or treatments you may have received. You can expect the lowest rate of late effects with CyberKnife, since it targets the cancerous tissue and leaves healthy tissue undamaged.
Get Emotional Support
As your cancer treatment draws to an end, you may experience pleasant emotions like relief, excitement, and joy. You may look forward to resuming a more normal routine, spending more time with your loved ones, trying new things, traveling, or simply enjoying what you love most in life. But many survivors face less pleasant emotions after cancer treatment.
You may worry about the cancer coming back. You may feel lonely and isolated even in the company of friends and loved ones, because they don’t understand what it’s like to survive cancer. You may feel anger, grief, depression, a lack of confidence, or uncertainty about the future. Get support from friends and loved ones, attend counseling, or join a support group. Other ways to cope with your emotions include journaling, expressing yourself creatively, and exercising.
Take Care of Your Body
Cancer treatment can be a massive physical drain, and it can take a long time for your body to recover. After cancer treatment ends, take care of your body by getting enough rest, exercising regularly, and eating a healthy diet. If you drink alcohol, you may want to consider quitting, or at least keeping your consumption within recommended guidelines. If you smoke, quit smoking.
Your body may not bounce all the way back immediately after cancer treatment, and that’s normal. Make sure that family, friends, and neighbors understand that you may not be able to immediately resume your normal activities and commitments. A general rule of thumb is that recovery from the effects of cancer treatment can take about the same length of time as that which passed between the day when you or your doctor first suspected you might have cancer and the day of your last treatment. So, if you first received suspicious test results in January and you finished treatment in August, you may not be completely physically recovered for a full eight to nine months after your final treatment.
You may be looking forward to your last cancer treatment, but that doesn’t mean your life will return to normal right away. Be patient, get support, and take it easy, and soon you’ll find yourself living a full and vibrant life after cancer.