The differences between men and women are vast, that we can all agree on. But the differences between the sexes are never more
apparent than how they handle a diagnosis of cancer.
Women tend to rally around each other for support. Our gender has even been known to start entire organizations in support of a friend or family member who is battling cancer, i.e. the powerhouse that is Susan G. Komen for the Cure.
But what about the men? Did you know that more than 240,000 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer every year? To give you a comparison, more than 290,000 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer each year. Those statistics aren’t that different yet breast cancer seems to get most of the attention.
For men, the opportunities for support are few and far between as compared to their female counterparts. Many men choose to handle their prostate cancer diagnosis in a stoic manner. The “John Wayne Approach” as prostate cancer survivor Bob Hill likes to call it.
Bob recently gave some more sage advice at the Baylor Charles A. Sammons Cancer Center’s Prostate Cancer Survivors Luncheon this month where he was the keynote speaker. For those of you who weren’t able to make it, not to worry…we have a re-cap for you.
Here are the five most important lessons Bob learned during his cancer journey:
1.) Survival chances are much better than you think. Most people are overwhelmed by the word, “cancer.” It’s a powerful word that a generation or two ago was considered taboo. Bob says his 89-year-old father can’t even say the word “cancer.” But, if detected early, your chances of surviving prostate cancer are almost 100%. That’s why early diagnosis is critical.
2.) It’s important to stay positive. Bob says he’s not a “glass half full” kind of guy so he adopted a popular sports psychology tactic to help him get a different perspective. “You have to visualize the ball, or in this case, a good outcome.” Bob says he learned to remove his negative attitude by “building a zone” of positive thinking. He learned to focus on surviving. “You’ll have a much better chance of your body following what your mind is telling it to.”
3.) Celebrate more. Worry less. It’s that simple, according to Bob. “I chose to embrace the life I had been given rather than mourning the life I lost.” Bob advises men diagnosed with prostate cancer to celebrate the mini victories along the way like a good post-op report. Never take the small wins for granted.
4.) You can’t go it alone. Again, Bob says to get rid of the “John Wayne Approach.” Men have a tendency to refuse help and support. Learn to let go of the “tough guy” attitude and accept the help and support that is offered to you. It’s not healthy to refuse it. You’ll need it more than ever if you’re diagnosed with cancer.
5.) Keep your eye on the prize. ”When diagnosed with prostate cancer, you’ll find yourself in the middle of a tornado,” says Bob. A whirlwind of not only emotions, but doctor’s appointments, insurance issues and financial worries. Focus on the only thing that matters–crossing the finish line. Worrying is not only bad for your mental health, but it will beat down your body as well.
For more of Bob Hill’s wisdom on prostate cancer, check out his past blog posts here on Sammons Says.
If you’re looking for prostate cancer resources and support, Baylor offers some options through the Virginia R. Cvetko Patient Education Center at the Baylor Sammons Cancer Center.
This blog post was contributed by Ashley Howland, social media manager, Baylor Health Care System.
Robert “Bob” Hill, 56, is author of Dead Men Don’t Have Sex: A Guy’s Guide to Surviving Prostate Cancer. He’s an eight-year prostate cancer survivor who lives in Colleyville with his wife Charlotte. They own a public relations firm and produce The Boomer Brief, www.boomerbrief.com, a web site dedicated to entertaining Baby Boomers and keeping them current on the world around them. Their son, Cole Garner Hill, lives in New York City and writes for the Huffington Post.