Vim & Vigor - Spring 2012 - University of Virginia - (Page 34)

Lean On Me When your partner is diagnosed with prostate cancer, your support is essential. Here are a few ways you can help H earing that your spouse has prostate cancer is scary and perplexing. But you can get through it—together. Knowing exactly how you can help is half the battle. Here are some ways you can support your partner. AFTER THE DIAGNOSIS Once you hear those two words—prostate cancer—it’s anyone’s guess (even your own) how you and your spouse will react. That’s why it’s critical to make sure the lines of communication are open. “If you don’t talk openly, you’ll both hold a lot inside,” says Dan Zenka, senior vice president of communications for the Prostate Cancer Foundation. Zenka was diagnosed with prostate cancer in April 2010 while working for the foundation. As a caregiver, your next step: Start researching. “It’s very helpful if the spouse gets up to speed on the disease,” Zenka says. Go online, head to the library or talk to someone who has faced the same diagnosis. This will take the unknowns out of the equation and give you a better idea of what you and your spouse are facing. And don’t be afraid to speak up with your own questions, says Kimberly Stump-Sutliff, R.N., associate medical editor for the American Cancer Society. Have the doctor draw pictures or show you an illustration if it will help you both understand, she adds. Ask your spouse if he’d like time alone with the doctor to ask personal questions—things he might want to ask by himself. To further support your spouse, volunteer to take on the task of requesting copies of test results and other medical records and shuttling the necessary information to the right medical professional. There’s no guarantee that his medical records will be accessible five years from now, so it’s smart to get copies now, Stump-Sutliff says. AT HOME Being the person your spouse can rely on to talk to about his journey with prostate cancer is invaluable, but don’t forget to talk about the day-to-day stuff, too—things that don’t involve the “c” word. “Designate a time of day that the two of you don’t talk about cancer—maybe it’s dinner time,” Stump-Sutliff says. “That way, you both feel there is another life beyond the diagnosis. You’re the perfect person to remind him there’s life beyond prostate cancer.” Last but not least, take care of yourself. That means eating right, getting regular medical checkups and exercising. You need to be at your best to support your spouse. “My wife is very good at making sure I have time to do relaxation exercises and get the rest I need,” Zenka says. “The spouse needs to do the same. Go out with friends. Get a massage. Make yourself feel good because you need to.” PHOTOGRAPHY BY VALENTIN CASARSA, GETTY IMAGES AT DOCTOR APPOINTMENTS Plan to accompany your spouse to each and every doctor appointment. Before you go in, write a list of questions together, and bring a notebook for taking notes. “Prior to a doctor visit, my wife and I compare notes and questions we have,” Zenka says. “After, we’ll ask each other, ‘Did you understand that?’ If not, we’ll call the doctor or go online for clarification. It’s important to have someone there to double-check what you think you hear so nothing falls through the cracks.” BY COLLEEN RINGER 34 Vim & Vigor · SP R I N G 2 012

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Vim & Vigor - Spring 2012 - University of Virginia

Vim & Vigor - Spring 2012 - University of Virginia
Life in Balance
Healthy Dose
Outliving Our Heart Valves
Rewiring Relief
Get Real
How Far We’ve Come
Patient Survival Guide
Perfect Attendance
Jennifer Hudson, Grammy-winning recording artist
Lean on Me
Intimidated by the Gym?
What Is Your Volunteer Style?
A Prescription for Relief
Virtual Health
Moving On
For This Traveling Man, Dialysis Is No Roadblock
A Good Move

Vim & Vigor - Spring 2012 - University of Virginia