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Find some positives during the pandemic

Hints & tips

We are all living through a deeply challenging time right now.  The coronavirus pandemic is impacting our lives in so many ways.  If you add prostate cancer into the mix, 2020 looks especially unpleasant.

As I lay awake in bed last night, I decided to write a brief article for The Prostate Zone.  So, I’ve put together some thoughts and tips to help those affected by prostate cancer to keep safe and turn this time to good use.

We live in a suburb of Melbourne, in Victoria (Australia).  This means that we are currently under Stage 3 Lockdown, so we spend most of our time at home with one another.  Depending on where you live, you may also be spending much more time than usual together with your partner and/or family members.  Being together 24/7 can cause friction and prostate cancer treatment or recovery increases the intensity of the situation.

The following list of tips and suggestions is designed to offer ways to help you through this time.  By no means is it exhaustive (and it certainly doesn’t constitute “medical advice”), but I hope it will be useful.

If you have any other tips or strategies, please share them with us.  Every little bit helps!

General health & wellbeing

  • Please make sure that you keep up your medical appointments, tests, treatments, etc.  Don’t let fear of the virus keep you from doing these critical things.  You are more likely to pick up COVID from the supermarket than from your GP or hospital.
  • If you live alone, please reach out to friends or family by phone (or Zoom, Skype, etc.).  Make sure you keep connected.  Especially make sure that you don’t dip into depression.
  • If you don’t have anyone to call, there are services like BeyondBlue’s Coronavirus Mental Wellbeing Support Service (Phone 1800 512 348).  Or you can call MensLine (Phone 1300 78 99 78) or LifeLine (Phone 13 11 14).

For couples

This extra time together can be useful.  All relationships can do with improvement and this could be great chance to see how yours is tracking.  Before you start, make sure that you are both okay to work on this now.

  • If either of you is feeling fragile, go very gently (if at all).
  • Be kind to one another and give yourselves as much space as possible under the circumstances.
  • COVID is making us all vulnerable in so many ways, so take time, be respectful and listen more than you talk.

Okay, if you both feel ready for a bit of relationship renovation, let’s go.

The following questions come from a book by Dr Rosie King * that I really recommend.  These relate to the “goodwill” in your relationship.

The state of “goodwill” in your relationship is vitally important.  All relationships, over time, can suffer from neglect.

Each time we say something or do something that upsets our partner, “goodwill” can be affected.

This pandemic offers us an opportunity to rebuild the “goodwill” in our relationships, which is so important to our overall health and wellbeing.

You answer these questions with a score – “Always”, “Often”, “Sometimes” or “Rarely”. 

  • Are you willing to go the extra mile to make your partner happy?
  • Are you sincerely interested in how your partner feels?
  • Are you compassionate if your partner is upset?
  • Are you polite and courteous to your partner?
  • Are you thoughtful and considerate?
  • Are you good friends with your partner?
  • Do you make an effort to get along with your partner even when he/she is being difficult?
  • Are you kind to your partner in words and deeds?
  • Are you patient with your partner?
  • Are you tolerant of your partner’s faults?
  • Do you respect your partner?
  • Do you try to find compromise with your partner rather than getting your own way?
  • Do you try to resolve your differences constructively?
  • Do you show appreciation towards your partner?
  • Are you honest with your partner?
  • Do you trust your partner?
  • Do you find it easy to apologise to your partner?
  • Are you willing to forgive your partner?
  • Do you try to be the very best partner you can be?

Strong, respectful and loving relationships make a huge difference when dealing with prostate cancer.  If you are in a relationship and you have experienced prostate cancer, you will know that it is definitely a couple’s disease.

If you are struggling right now, please speak up – to your partner, a friend or family member, to your GP or to one of the free help services listed above.

If you wish, you can contact Alan or me via this website.  We are happy to have a chat.  And if you have found something helpful that you would like to share, please do.

* Dr Rosie King’s book “Where did my libido go?” is not just helpful for those who want to rekindle their sex life.  She has so much practical advice (and useful exercises) in the book for making relationships stronger and better.  I definitely recommend it for both women and men.  Also, her advice about sex is excellent.