Nobody can predict how prostate cancer will affect you. Sure, physicians are skilled at treating the medical condition with a host of therapies such as minimally invasive robotic surgery, radiation, chemotherapy and many other techniques. But, the how-am-I-going-to-get-through-this, part is largely up to you.
When I was diagnosed, I realized that if I didn’t get a handle on the disease and my emotions I was going to be in trouble. Out of necessity, I developed three coping skills that I’ll share with you.
1. NAME YOUR ENEMY
Since prostate cancer is an invisible invader, I couldn’t “see” my cancer, and I didn’t feel sick. To tell you the truth, the unseen was making me pretty uneasy.
Regaining control over my body and life became very important to me, and since I have a hard time fighting something I can’t see, I decided to name my cancer. Sounds silly, doesn’t it? Not really. That was my first step toward concentrating on something positive.
I named my cancer “Karl.”
It was a simple thing. But, once I put a mental face on my enemy I felt like I was back in charge. Yeah it was a baby step, but for me it was the first step toward survival.
Naming Karl energized me. I wanted to take this positive step and grow it into something bigger. That’s what led to coping skill number two.
2. BUILD A ZONE
A zone is a positive frame of mind that you create to help you stay focused on the only goal that matters: Removing Cancer From Your Life.
Zones are as unique as snowflakes. How you build yours is up to you. You see, I’m not a peppy, glass-is-half-full, kind of guy. But I sensed that my survival chances would be better if I could at least convince myself they were good.
I reasoned that if I could persuade my mind, then my body might follow. That’s when I turned off everything negative. I got my body, mind, spirit and friends working together on one goal: killing Karl (aka beating cancer).
Building a zone helped me embrace the good things in my life. The world is a wonderful place even if you have prostate cancer, but it’s only visible if you open yourself up to it. The zone worked for me because it flipped the switch on my attitude.
After I named my enemy and put myself in a positive frame of mind by building a zone, I still needed something to keep me heading in the right direction.
That’s what led to coping skill number three.
3. CREATE A MANTRA
“Mantra” is a Sanskrit word that (loosely translated) meaning “thinking tool”. It’s something you say to yourself to help focus your energy.
Boy, did I need to focus.
Three words in an exam room: “You’ve got cancer” had turned me into a wreck. At first, I felt helpless. Then I began to get control of myself and my situation.
I quit punching my fists at an unseen enemy and chose to fight something I could see (step one). Then, I got into a positive frame of mind (step two). Finally, I focused my energy (step three).
There’s nothing special about my mantra, except that it worked for me. It may work for you, too. If it does, then use it with my blessing. Here’s how it goes: “I choose to embrace the life I’ve been given, rather than mourn the life I’ve lost”.
I probably said it to myself 100 times a day when things got tough.
Yes, prostate cancer is a disease that impacts every part of a man’s life. How you treat it is up to the skilled physicians and other professionals on your team. But, how you survive it, that my friend, is up to you.
This blog post was contributed by Robert “Bob Hill”, is an eight-year prostate cancer survivor and author of Dead Men Don’t Have Sex: A Guy’s Guide to Surviving Prostate Cancer.