Living with Cancer and Thriving

Two months after we got married in 2009, Mike was diagnosed with an aggressive strain of prostrate cancer.

He had taken the wise step of having a test at his GP after hearing stories from friends about this cancer.

Mike’s prompt action has extended his life because had he left it any later his outcomes would have been far worse.

But at the time, I did not realise how much this was going to affect both our lives.

Our relationship was loving, intimate and well established but the challenges cancer has given us over the past nine years have been life changing.

Mike has been stoical through the biopsy, the radium and continuous hormone treatment.

He has dealt with his changing body image and being too tender to be touched.

We have needed to show affection differently, keep positive and deal with one challenge at a time.

I heard him talking on the phone the other day and in answer to a friend he said ‘Well I am still here’.

As a younger man Mike coped with depression and used work as a distraction, unfortunately he is now retired so no longer has the camaraderie of work colleagues nor the distraction of a gruelling work routine to take his mind elsewhere.

He is now self-catheterising weekly with no particular end in sight.

He has always found talking about feelings challenging so talking about his cancer or the changes it has had on our relationship is not always easy.

What has helped is my involvement as a trainer in the evidence-based self-management course Cancer: Thriving and Surviving.

This has given us tools and skills to live as effectively as possible despite the cancer and also to communicate effectively so that we both get our needs met.

The course has been compiled and implemented using a co-productive framework of those with experience of the condition being at the centre throughout.

Many of the trainers are volunteers and have personal experience of cancer.

It runs over six weeks, one session of two hours a week with the aim of gaining tools to live effectively despite the cancer.

The course includes activities such as managing pain, fatigue, and living with uncertainty as well as planning, problem solving and relaxation.

The activities I found most useful were working with the healthcare team and decision making about treatments.

We look forward to the years ahead with our family and friends and we plan, focus on all that is before us

We do not dwell on what life might have been without diagnosis, we do not have to as we are too busy living!

Check out the self-management courses on SMRC web site www.selfmanagementresource.com and their UK representative’s site www.talkinghealth.org

 

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