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A man is supposed to be physically healthy and emotionally strong. So where does he turn to when a disease such as prostate cancer comes along, which threatens this? An international call to action has been launched which draws attention to the impact that prostate cancer has on a man's love life, and calls for much better information to help couples through this difficult time.
More than 230,000 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer every year. "It is reaching epidemic proportions and is possibly one of the biggest challenges to men's health in the world today," says Tom Kirk of Us TOO International Prostate Cancer Education and Support Network.
The international call to action asks men and their families to confront the disease and assemble the best team of doctors and researchers around them for advice on treatment options, and draw strength from the loving support of their family to help them manage the impact the disease can have on how they feel emotionally.
Marriage and family therapists, Douglas and Sandy Jardine have firsthand experience living with prostate cancer, following Douglas' diagnosis in 2006. "We knew that after his surgery for prostate cancer, erectile dysfunction would be inevitable at least for a few months" says Sandy. "We planned a romantic weekend away just before surgery day. We joked about having sex all weekend, but it was bittersweet and somewhat sad."
"As a couple, we needed to know much earlier, and before the surgery, about the near certainty of some level of permanent sexual dysfunction after removal of the cancer. We needed clearer and more realistic predictions of how long it could take before things improved. Our hope is that health professionals will increasingly provide this education before surgery. This will empower the man and his partner, and could be of help in keeping the partners connected," she says.
Prostate cancer survivor Jim Kiefert was diagnosed with prostate cancer 20 years ago at age 50. Kiefert, who is chairman of the board of directors of Us TOO International, was told that he had between one and three years to live. "I was told that I had failed the treatments and there was no known cure," Kiefert says. "I felt very depressed. But my wife Maureen and I learned everything we could about prostate cancer and made changes in our diet and exercise, and practiced stress reduction. We've been real fighters."
Although prostate cancer strikes only men, it can have a profound impact on the man, the couple and the family. "Keep talking to each other, reach out to family and friends, and learn all that you can about the disease. Join a prostate cancer support group, and put your relationship first. Listen to your partner's feelings, and be a safe haven for each other," says Sandy.
For additional information visit Us TOO International Prostate Cancer Education and Support Network at www.ustoo.org or ZERO - The Project to End Prostate Cancer at www.zerocancer.org.
Courtesy of ARAcontent