I believe that most of us already knew that as prostate cancer advances the strain caused by the disease progression on both the survivor and his spouse increases. This strain has a direct negative effect on the emotional quality of life experienced by the survivor and their spouse.
Despite this, there are very few support groups or programming designed for men with advanced prostate cancer and even fewer programs for these men and their partners or spouses! When I experienced my recurrence, I unsuccessfully searched New York City and its suburbs for any support program for men in my situation. Because of the unsuccessful search, for the first year after the recurrence of my PC, I often felt that I was the only person under 55 years in the entire city that had advanced prostate cancer! I knew, intellectually, this was not the case, but I could not find anyone else or any support programs for men in my situation.
Men and their spouses (partners) who in fact are most in need have the least available recourses. It is very nice that so many of our prostate cancer nonprofits offer regular support programs for men who are newly diagnosed and who are dealing with the life changes resulting from primary treatment. However, most of these organizations have forgotten those of us who have progressed and developed recurrent and advanced disease. Since 1/3 of men who receive primary treatment will experience a recurrence, we are forgetting too many men, men who are in fact most in need!
Malecare has responded to this need by starting a New York City couples support group for men and their partners. In addition, they have an internet support group for the same population. (for information on these programs go to www.malecare.org
I call upon the other prostate cancer support programs to step up to the plate and recognize this need. It would not require a large contribution of recourses, but would provide great help and comfort to a large, needy, and under served cohort of men.
Joel T Nowak MA, MSW