Facing the Tiger: A Guide for Men with Prostate Cancer and the People Who Love Them
Prof. Suzanne ChambersGriffith University
"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."
"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."
" 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."
"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."
"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."
About the Author
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.”
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"