BY RALPH BLUM
Once you have been diagnosed with prostate cancer, I
can’t stress too often the importance of being an active participant in your
own cancer care.
All too often, the old model of care involved rushing mindlessly
into whatever radical treatment your doctor recommended, often without
understanding your options, and nervously hoping that the treatment the
urologist chose would get rid of the cancer. The entire process was focused on
the tumor; minimal attention was given to you as a person, or to the underlying
factors that may have predisposed you to getting the prostate cancer in the
first place. In fact you were, as we say nowadays, “disempowered”- you played
no role in your own healing.
Conversely, the emerging new model of cancer care
recognizes the important role you can, and should, play in your recovery. The
emerging model understands that simply attacking the cancer is not enough; that
when you feel empowered, when you regain a sense of control by engaging in your
own recovery, it optimizes your body’s healing potential. Unfortunately, not
all cancer specialists have adopted the new model.
So now that you know for sure that you’ve got prostate
cancer, what do you need to do?
First, find a cancer doctor who gives you confidence,
listens to you, and who understands that you need to take the central role in
your treatment choices and recovery process. Then, do your own “due diligence”
thoroughly research all your treatment options, check, and recheck with a
second opinion your doctor’s recommendations, and only then,
choose the treatment program you believe in.
Equally important, your role in your recovery doesn’t
stop with your choice of treatment. Cancer survivors agree that taking charge
of their entire health and well-being by focusing on nutrition, exercise,
support-and-attitude, enhanced their immune system and laid the foundation of
the healing process.
The emphasis on lifestyle choices has been one of the
most significant shifts in cancer care in the last decade. A cancer diagnosis
is a heads-up to launch a nutritional makeover, and a regular, moderate
exercise program. Nothing extreme is called for. But it’s not enough to
depend solely on medical treatment to fight your cancer.
When it comes to support and attitude I realize I’m
getting into territory where most men are inclined to think, “B.S!” But
plenty of research demonstrates the benefits of supportive friendships, and
intimate relationships that support and nurture us. And a great many cancer
survivors report that they a direct link between a positive attitude and
The emerging model of cancer care recognizes that
psychological and emotional states are as important to your healing as
nutrition and exercise. A sense of optimism and hope strengthen and inspire the
will to live, and actually impact the body on a physiological level. Inevitably
there will be times during treatment when you feel fearful, depressed,
exhausted and yes, hopeless. When that happens, instead of going into denial,
allow yourself to feel the feelings, but refuse to get stuck in negativity.
Surround yourself with supportive friends, believe in your treatment,
and know that you are making lifestyle choices that support your healing.
It cannot be stated too often: reclaiming a sense of
being in charge of your life and your health provide a vitally important
foundation for the healing process— and the rest of your life.