Facing the Tiger: A Guide for Men with Prostate Cancer and the People Who Love Them

Prof. Suzanne Chambers

Griffith University

Prostate cancer is now the most common male cancer in the western world, excluding non-melanoma skin cancer. In Australia over 120,000 men are living with a diagnosis of prostate cancer. For each man who has had prostate cancer, there will be people close who care about them, and love them, who are also deeply affected. This book provides practical strategies to help cope with the emotional and psychological stress of living with prostate cancer and to regain a sense of ease about the situation in which you may find yourself. Written by one of the world's leading researchers into the psychological effects of cancer and how best to provide support for individuals and couples, it is structured so that the reader can choose whatever chapter seems most relevant right now. Personal stories and insights from men and their partners offer emotional comfort and inspiration throughout. While everyone's experience of prostate cancer is uniquely their own there is nothing quite like the wisdom that comes from others who have already walked the path.

All author royalties for Facing the Tiger are being donated to

CHECK OUT the iPad app — "prostateapp" — at the Apple App Store

What the Experts Say about 'Facing the Tiger'

"Suzanne Chambers is one of those rare people who not only sees a problem but immediately starts to think about how to do something about it. So much of the psycho-oncology literature is full of studies about observation and measurement. Suzanne's group is leading the way in devising meaningful interventions based on this knowledge and then testing whether they actually make a difference. Suzanne has taken her practical insights and loaded them into this easy-to-read book, illustrating them with real examples. This book will make a large difference to the lives of people affected by prostate cancer." 
Professor Ian Davis, Medical Oncologist, Founder and Chair, Australian and New Zealand Urogenital and Prostate Cancer Trials Group

"Suzanne Chambers has written the game plan for coping with prostate cancer. She brings years of experience from observing how men and their mates cope. She also presents the "how to" in terms that are understandable and acceptable. Football is a great metaphor for successful coping: working closely with the coach/oncologist; taking the offensive and charging forward; maintaining optimism and confidence; keeping an eye on the goal despite transient setbacks; being sure the whole team is working together. The stories in the book show how courage pays off, how engaging the spouse helps both in coping, and how humour and empathy ease the bruises of the game. It is a MUST for those coping with this type of cancer." 
Professor Jimmie Holland, MD. Wayne E. Chapman Chair in Psychiatric Oncology, Attending Psychiatrist, Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York

"An excellent hand-book. Suzanne Chambers has had an enduring and innovative commitment to helping to resolve the many difficulties encountered by those involved with prostate cancer for many years. Tracing the many dilemmas faced in what is so often a long journey with this condition, this book proposes practical ways to straddle the hurdles that appear in the paths of patients and partners. The book is written 'from the heart' and provides a self-help guide in simple and unambiguous language. A major strength is the inclusion of sections by a number of courageous patients and partners who have openly shared what are so often regarded as private experiences." 
Professor RA ('Frank') Gardiner AM, MBBS MD FRACS FRCS, Professor of Urology, The University of Queensland, Consultant Urologist, Royal Brisbane & Women's Hospital

" A must-read for all patients, and their families, who are faced with a diagnosis of prostate cancer and the life after it. The medical community is still in the infancy of incorporating issues of patient distress and the psycho-social elements of therapeutic care into clinical practice. This book helps medical consumers find their internal strength and empowers them to be advocates for their own best quality of life." 
Virgil H. Simons, MPA, Founder & President, The Prostate Net, an international non-profit patient education and advocacy organization for men with prostate cancer

"Once a patient, partner/carer or a family member affected by prostate cancer starts to read this book they will not be able to put it down. It is a wonderful blend of real life stories, practical tips learnt by experience and professional know how. Quality of life is a theme that resonates along with confidence building and knowing you are not alone." 
David Sandoe OAM, National Chairman Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia and Co-leader (with his wife Pam) of the Sydney Adventist Hospital Prostate Cancer Support Group

"A must read for anybody coping with a prostate cancer diagnosis. It is equally as useful and important for their partners. I wish it had been around when I was diagnosed." 
Peter Dornan AM, Sport Physiotherapist, Author, Sculptor and Convenor of the Brisbane Prostate Cancer Support Network

About the Author

Professor Suzanne Chambers is a Griffith University health psychologist. She has worked as a practitioner and researcher in psychological support for people with cancer for over 20 years focusing most recently on trials of interventions that address couple support and psychological distress in men with prostate cancer. She is an Australian Research Council Future Fellow and the 2013 William Rudder Fellow. Her scientific publication record is extensive and she is highly regarded internationally within both the psychological and medical fields for the quality, innovation, and breadth of her work.



Listen to Navigating the Cancer Maze: Facing the Tiger with Prof Suzanne Chambers, March 1, 2013 VoiceAmerica Health & Wellness

The Australian Financial Review

Getting to heart of dealing with prostate cancer

PUBLISHED: 30 Jan 2013 PRINT EDITION: 30 Jan 2013

Crucial to every prostate cancer diagnosis is question of whether the tumour is a pussy cat or a tiger.

When it is the latter, the challenges can be considerable.

A unique book, designed to help men and their loved ones face these challenges, will be released next week. It is not about what happens in men’s bodies but about what happens in their minds and hearts.

Instead of offering medical advice, it provides a rich map to the emotional terrain men and their partners may need to traverse. The uniqueness of the map is that it is drawn from the latest evidence in the field.

Author Suzanne Chambers is a psycho-oncologist. She has worked as a practitioner and researcher in psychological support for people with cancer for more than 20 years, and is highly pragmatic.

A professor of psychology at Griffith University in Queensland, her research team is leading the way in devising interventions for coping with the relationship, sexual and social difficulties that can arise in the wake of treatment.

While the book relates intimate personal stories from men and their partners, it mainly provides coping strategies – both offensive and defensive – that have been shown to work.

Most of us live as if our days ahead are endless but a cancer diagnosis can quickly end this reverie. It is a major life stress and can threaten our sense of self.

Chambers writes that prostate cancer is not just one experience. It is a long journey with twists and turns. At the outset, many men feel well supported but over time, there is an expectation that they should "get on with it”.

There are two broad ways of coping. The first is problem solving which involves becoming active, getting information, understanding treatment options and moving forward in a practical way.

The second is focusing on the emotional realities and finding strategies to reduce distress. She suggests setting goals that are realistic and, importantly, can be recognised when they are achieved. A key is to take small steps.

"One thing is for sure, if you don’t know where you want to go, you probably won’t get there.”

As a cancer diagnosis inevitably puts any relationship under pressure – and things that in the past seemed easy to solve now seem tougher – effective communication is crucial. Chambers first piece of practical advice is to avoid mind reading.

"We often act as if we can read our partner’s minds and they can read ours. We think we know why they are angry or upset, even though we haven’t checked, and more often than not we think it is about us,” she says.

"It is worth accepting that although you may know your partner better than anyone else in the world, you have never known them quite under these circumstances.”

The book explores the complications of sex after treatment and has one man talking about the importance of "having beers in the fridge” even if he doesn’t intend to drink them any time soon. Having the potential is important.

Cancer can overwhelm and if men understand what lies beneath and what is driving their reactions, they will be better prepared to manage their responses, she says.

"The trick is flexible coping, being prepared to change tack if your current approach is not working, and being open to possibilities and change.

"The time to look after your health will never be right unless you claim it. Prostate cancer can be a tough experience.

"This book is about guiding men and their partners in ways they can take control of their wellbeing. It’s a first step.”

Jill Margo

Table of Contents

  • Chapter One "Facing the Tiger"
  • Chapter Two "Why me? On being diagnosed with prostate cancer"
  • Chapter Three "Me too! On loving someone with prostate cancer"
  • Chapter Four "In this together"
  • Chapter Five "How to make decisions you can live with"
  • Chapter Six "Sex: What now?"
  • Chapter Seven "I think therefore I am!"
  • Chapter Eight "De-Stressing"
  • Chapter Nine "Solving Problems after Treatment"
  • Chapter Ten "Grace under Fire"
  • Appendix