Dad has prostate cancer- How to support him?

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Hi, 

I'm new here and I decided to join because it's been a few weeks my dad, who is 73, has been diagnosed with prostate cancer and he will start radiotherapy in three weeks. 

I live abroad so when I have a videocall with him and ask him about this he doesn't tell much. All I know is that it is on the early stages and it was just discovered through a routine exam. He is good doing healthcheck exams every year.

Currently I'm unemployed as I was on a temporary contract and I'm trying to find a new job. So, I'm a bit stressed with my own life as well. I haven't told my dad so I don't stress him. I asked him when he would like me to go back home so I can be by his side now that he will do the treatments, but he says to go whenever I want. 

I tried to read a few things about this cancer, but one of my main concerns is how can I support my dad. So, other men who have gone through the same thing what kind of support would you like from your children?

My brother is still there  so he has somebody in the city if needed. Also, my mom passed away 17 years ago from lung cancer so he doesn't have a wife, but there is a lady that they had a relationship and I think they still see each other. However, I don't know much about their relationship anymore because me and my brother we fall apart with her. So, dad never mentions her because he knows we don't want her. I'm saying this because I don't know if she will help him also by going to the treatments or being at home with him providing some care.

So, yes any advise on how to support him at this stage would be beneficial. Like emotionally and in every day life.

  • Hello Charlotte_T and a warm welcome to the forum, though sorry you have to be here and your dad has prostate cancer, But as you say it's been caught early is good news. As a dad with three grown up children all in the mid 30s all i wanted from them was for them to be happy and not to worry about me, which i knew would be difficult at best, so even though I told them about my diagnosis i put a brave face on things and tried to be my usual self and keep my down days from them, I'm sure your dad would love you to be with him, just being with him will make him happy, as will you, your brother and your dads partner trying to get along, As your dads cancer has been caught early he might not have many symptoms and just be his usual self, though if he is on hormone therapy before he starts radiotherapy he will probably have fatigue and have less energy and feel tired, so you could take him for walks as exercise will help him to get fitter which will help him cope with treatment better best wishes.

    Eddie

  • Hi Eddie, thanks for the reply. It helps to know the perspective of others who have gone through this so I know how I could best support him.

    I feel like my dad wants the same meaning me and my brother to be happy. Maybe that's why he doesn't talk much. But still I feel like I need to do something. I cannot just be I hope you get well soon.

    So far I'm just trying to be positive every time we talk and that he will do fine. Next time I'm thinking to speak openly to him and just say in a nice way what kind of support would he like from us.

  • Hi Charlotte,Just be there for him he will reach out and as you know us men can be stubborn sometimes,I know with myself I like my own space at times and when I need to reach out I come on this forum ,maybe there’s a support group where he stays that could help,I know it’s a worry for yourself and you need support as well we’re all here for you and your Dad,I find the waiting is the hardest take care Robert xx

  • Charlotte if as you say your dads cancer has ben caught early, his treatment will be done to cure him, I like your reply that looks like a very good idea, take care.

    Eddie

  • That's true the treatment will cure him. However, what I'm concerned is that radiotherapy doesn't just kill the cancerous cells, but some healthy ones also and that there are side effects. Like in a website I was reading that he might develop bladder cancer later on etc.

    It's like you cure one thing and then another thing pops up. But, I guess maybe we have to take one thing at a time. Let's cure first the prostate cancer because even if we leave this in fear of other side effects and it might move to other parts of the body and could be worse.

  • Hello Charlotte ( )

    Another warm welcome to the online Community from me. I have been following this thread and can understand your concern for dad.

    Like in a website I was reading

    There's lots of information out there. Can I ask that you to stick to trusted sources for your information, Macmillan, Prostate Cancer UK and this Community. (not Dr Google).

    As with all treatments they are done with an aim to cure - but there all have side effects - I was 67 when I had my 20 fractions of Radiotherapy and apart from a few small issues - soon sorted with my weeing - and fatigue I sailed through it and have been fine since.

    Below is a link to a cracking booklet on Radiotherapy -

    .https://shop.prostatecanceruk.org/our-publications/all-publications/external-beam-radiotherapy

    I hope this helps you understand the Radiotherapy process. If I can do anything else for you please don't hesitate to let me know.

    Best wishes - Brian.

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  • Hi Charlotte it's true radiotherapy will damage healthy cells, but they will recover or be replaced by new ones unlike cancer cells which will be killed and can't come back, I know RT may play a part in getting cancer but the chances are tiny and weighed against being cured are irrelevant. The only side effect most of us get is fatigue, which if you can improve your dads fitness will help him manage it, and if he gets any other side effects there are ways to treat them, and as you say getting rid of the cancer he has is what everyone should be focussing on. 

    Eddie xx

  • Hi  , sorry you have joined our group but welcome. If your father is on a curative path then it does sound like the PCa was found at an early stage.  We are all different in how we react to the various treatments but in my experience there were 2 ‘hard’ bits of RT.  Firstly, not knowing what to expect from the treatment.  You can reassure him it really is a completely painless and simple process for the patient.  Secondly, i found  complete monotony of treatments each day being like Groundhog Day (although I had 37 sessions).  Having said that, there are some short term side effects (which if he gets he must tell his Radiotherapy team) like diarrhoea, longer term problems may occur but probably not worth going through unless they occur.  How can you help him?  Just be  there for him, support from a distance will be welcome I am sure.  Best wishes,  David

  • Agree with David 2017.  Presume your Dad has also started some form of Hormone Therapy (HT) though this is not always necessary and I only had 9 months of HT where others can have up to 3 years.  This can give him some side effects like being emotional, putting on weight - especially around the middle, and fatigue and hot flushes.  Exercise is good for all these side effects - if he has them - some will get a few mildly and some a couple quite badly and some poor people will get all of them to a greater or lesser degree.  I found that I easily fell asleep after lunch when I sat down and also in front of the TV after about 8.30 in the evening.  That's not a problem so long as it doesn't effect night time sleep and make you very tired during the day.  I honestly didn't notice any emotional upset during my time on HT and the hot flushes were minimal for me.  The fatigue I did notice and I did put on weight around the middle but due to exercising and eating healthily only 5lbs. Pretty sure exercising helped with all these and kept me "sane"  Did the same all through Radiotherapy (RT).  Really RT is no big deal and other than preparation emptying bowel and filling bladder before the RT session the actual session only took minutes.  It may be that usually around half way through the sessions that he will have some upset to his bladder and bowel.  Again I was lucky in that I had one night of upset.  Others having RT at the same time as me had up to a week and sometimes 2 weeks or longer.  It can be going more frequently or less frequently or having trouble going.  This, and any other changes that occur during the RT should be mentioned immediately to the radiotherapists who can prescribe treatments to help. 

    The best thing anyone can do to help is to be there to listen - whether in person or on the end of the phone/whatsapp chat and treat him now and again during and after treatment.  My wife took me to an ice cream parlour once a week to have a special sundae (I love ice cream and always have a tub of good ice cream in the freezer which I ration out to myself)  Just small nice thoughtful things that you know he would like. 

    All the best to you and your Dad and the rest of your family.

  • Hi Charlotte,

    Totally agree with all the advice everyone else has given.  I'm not sure if I have missed it being covered, but would it be worth mentioning this forum to your dad to see if he would be interested in joining?  I know I found it very supportive when I was diagnosed, & there may be questions he has about his treatment that he doesn't want to worry you or your brother with.

    Best wishes

    Brian