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how can i help my brother know that it is ok to reach out for help?

qbd13
Posts: 1
Joined: Dec 2010

my brother, who will be 59 tomorrow 12-9, was diagnosed with prostate cancer last year - on his birthday. his initial experience, with a local urologist, was not positive. being a breast cancer survivor i encouraged him to seek an appointment with an oncologist/radiologist - a facility with resources to aggressively get on top of the situation. my sister referred him to a college mate's father, a radiologist at the U of Chicago... and after speaking with my oncologist, who also recommended U of Chgo, we both encouraged him to make an appointment there.

the tests by the urologist indicated that his gleason score was 10 - and his psa was 26.8.
at the UofC the radiologist referred him to the oncology department. he was put into a clinical trial and given trial drugs. while his psa and gleason scores have come down, the cancer has spread to his bones and lymph areas... well outside of the prostate. time is shorter than any of us would like. i knew form my experience this wasn't good.

he is out of the clinical trial now because the drigs only worked for a short time and he was experiencing serious side effects. he was told chemo is the last choice - but to save that bullet as the last resort.

he does get support from his local men's group at church, and, after long soul searching, has married a woman that he met months before diagnosis, who also attends his church.

however, he seems to feel that he can't "share" or burden members of his family about his fight with this disease. i have tried to speak with him - and all he says is that he is "doing ok". knowing my brother, and having conversations with him when i went through my episode with breast cancer, i can't seem to get him to accept that it is ok to join this type of discussion group where he might find some help by even just reading the boards.

he feels that "people don't really want to hear about any of the depressing stuff"! he had a very difficult childhood, has raised 3 children as a single parent, and endured many struggles in his life before this. how can i get him motivated to join this group and find some "peace" and realize there might be another person who has/is going through the same knds of things that can offer something positive to help?

Kongo's picture
Kongo
Posts: 1167
Joined: Mar 2010

qbd,

I am so sorry to hear of your brother's condition. While the stage and extent of his prostate cancer appears very serious, there are many, many men who survive many years and new advances in drugs and other therapies are coming out every day.

Many men have difficulty in sharing their fears and concerns over their condition with family and friends. In my own experience with a much less sever form of prostate cancer, I found that most others who have not gone through a PCa diagnosis really have no idea what is going on. In fact, most men don't even have a very good idea of even where their prostate is or what its purpose is until they are diagnosed with prostate cancer. Even with family, I found that most often they just want you to tell them that "everything is okay." They really don't want to know the details and wouldn't understand them if you told them.

Most of us are uncomfortable when confronted with someone who is facing a potentially terminal condition and we unconsciously communicate our awkwardness to the person who needs our understanding and sympathy. Your brother sounds like someone who is used to overcoming tough obstacles and doesn't want sympathy or seem to be a burden on others. But as I think you have sensed, he could benefit from a support structure.

While a men's group at church is a great start, I would also seek out a prostate cancer support group in your area. The men who participate in these groups understand the disease, will undoubtedly welcome him as a brother, and offer him much support and advice in dealing with his condition. In such a setting, your brother will also have the opportunity to offer comfort and support to others and I have found that to be very helpful in dealing with my own condition. There are many organizations that sponsor such groups and if you do an internet search I am sure you will find several options in your local area. Each of these groups tend to develop their own personality and it may take a try or two for him to find the one he is most comfortable with but I believe he will find much more comfort and understanding in such a setting than reaching out to family and friends.

Another great support option is this forum. If you scroll through some of the posts, you will find that the men (and women) who post here are supportive, encouraging, and understanding. They also can provide a lot of good advice based on their own experiences in dealing with this disease. I would encourage your brother to check it out.

Best of luck to you and your brother in coping with this situation.

VascodaGama's picture
VascodaGama
Posts: 3225
Joined: Nov 2010

Hi qbd
I am sorry to learn about your brother’s advanced condition. He may not want you or other family member involved in the problem for non-particular reason. A member of the family of my wife had a similar experience, so they gave him a book as a present. You could probably send him a copy of the pamphlet published by the National Cancer Institute or even a book with a subtle title. He surely will give it a look when on his private time and appreciate your care.

Hope you succeed,
VGama

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