What Really Matters When Living with Metastatic Prostate Cancer
One of the most difficult aspects of my job as a medical oncologist is delivering news to a patient that their cancer has metastasized or advanced. Many of the patients I work with have been diagnosed with metastatic prostate cancer, which means the tumour has metastasized or spread beyond the prostate. In these cases, disease progression can categorically impact a patient’s quality of life and overall well-being – and not just due to the physical manifestations of the disease, but because of the very real psychological and social concerns that come with such a diagnosis.
Some of the most common questions I hear from men who are newly diagnosed with metastatic prostate cancer centre around the things that many of us value about our day-to-day lives. The big things – and the little things – that matter the most, make life meaningful and contribute to our overall quality of life:
- Will I still be able to spend quality time with friends and family?
- Can I still fulfill my bucket list and travel the world?
- Will I still be able to work, drive and provide for my family?
- Can I keep up with my hobbies like running or cooking or just tinkering with my car?
My answer to these types of questions is yes – and while it’s never a ‘one size fits all’ approach, maintaining one’s quality of life is possible for those living with metastatic prostate cancer.
For those who have been diagnosed with metastatic prostate cancer, here are a few actions that can guide you through your experience and help you get back to doing what really matters:
- Take action and know your treatment options. In recent years important advancements have led to new treatment options, including an option that can be used earlier in advanced disease and prior to chemotherapy. These treatments not only delay the progression of metastatic prostate cancer, but also help maintain quality of life.
- Ask the right questions. A diagnosis of metastatic prostate cancer can be overwhelming so it’s always important to prepare and customize questions for your healthcare team in advance of visiting your healthcare professional, to help ensure you’re receiving the care that best suits your needs.
- Educate yourself. Knowledge is power, especially when facing something like metastatic prostate cancer. The good news is there are resources that can help meet your needs such as Prostate Cancer Matters, a new website that offers patients and caregivers with information to help them to make decisions that are right for them.
- Be heard. Sharing personal stories and listening to others going through similar situations is incredibly powerful in helping patients and their loved ones cope with a prostate cancer diagnosis and gain inspiration and hope. Reach out online or talk to your healthcare provider about ways to connect with those sharing similar experiences.
If you’ve been diagnosed with metastatic prostate cancer, it’s important to speak with your physician about your options. For more information, visit www.prostatecancermatters.ca.
Dr. Sandy Sehdev, Medical Oncologist at William Osler Health System in Brampton, Ontario