As we talked about in our previous post, prostate cancer is a serious condition that affects 1 in 8 men in America. In fact, at some point in their lives, most men will suffer from some kind of problem with their prostate. Therefore we must outline how important it is to talk about this subject. How important it is to shed light on and demystify the issues around prostate cancer.
Last week we discussed how difficult it can be for many men to talk about the said condition. This week we will discuss the conversation around the effects prostate cancer can have on male identity. Surviving a life-threatening disease is already something overwhelming to go through as-is. And there is plenty of research on the condition from a medical standpoint. The effect it has on the body.
However, we are only just starting to delve into the repercussions it has on men psychologically and emotionally. What they live and feel throughout or post-treatment. The body affects the mind and vice-versa. So we must keep these factors in mind to help men make full recoveries and process the arduous journey prostate cancer is. It doesn’t end after treatment.
Why might prostate cancer or its treatment have an effect on male identity?
As important as cancer treatment is, it takes a toll on the body. Surgery, radiation and hormone therapy can have consequences for men. For example, incontinence, erectile dysfunction, hot flashes, loss of libido and so on.
If unaware of these side effects, they can be quite unexpected and damaging to male identity and general self-esteem. This is an aspect of prostate cancer treatment that can be hard to navigate through. And it can be difficult to find the emotional support necessary to process these experiences. Particularly, because, generally speaking, men have a tendency to be conditioned against showing vulnerability or loss of control.
How does sharing your prostate cancer experience help you and others?
Staying stoic and silent throughout life experiences such as these can become one of the largest problems in overcoming the issue in the first place. Resulting in unnecessarily prolonged suffering.
Many prostate cancers have expressed how much reading about other men who had similar experiences helped them. This is in part due to the fact that many men feel unable to share their own stories with friends and family. This in part shows how important it can be to share one’s own experience. Not just in the context of self-healing but also to help others.
There are general problems that might affect most prostate cancer survivors. Yet, it’s important to share individual stories, since everyone is different and can have specific challenges to their own experience.
Cultural context and diversity among prostate cancer survivors
The kinds of men that are affected by prostate cancer are incredibly diverse and it’s important to address this. There are a number of support groups out there, however, statistically speaking most of these groups look at this from the context of a heterosexual middle-class white male. It’s important to take note of everyone’s experience and be open and sensitive towards it at an individual level, since experiences can differ so much from person to person.
For instance, prostate cancer rates are some of the highest among African-American and Afro-Caribbean men. Unfortunately, many men in some populations such as these avoid getting screened and tested for prostate cancer. In many instances because the examination involves rectal penetration and there are some countries and areas where this can trigger homophobia. Cultural attitudes need to change so that men in these contexts can go and get tested without the fear of being judged.
Check our resources section for further information. Where you can also find inspiration from success and survival stories, or we can help you connect with a prostate cancer survivor.
If you have any questions, or just want to talk, call us at our toll-free hotline: 1(833)HEAL-MEN. You are not alone in this journey. We are here to help guide and support you through it, every step of the way.