Dealing with Recurrence
You have been treated for your prostate cancer and have gone on with your life. The results of the PSA blood tests have been stable for some time. If, however, you suddenly discover that your last few blood test levels have been significantly, steadily increasing, the news is not what you are ready to hear and seems just as devastating as the first time: the cancer is back. Even if you have been through this before, those feelings of shock, disbelief, guilt, anger, fear, denial, hopelessness and depression are still normal reactions. The question most likely to be going through your mind at this time is: “Will the treatment work this time?”
Even if you have been through this before, you should keep in mind that you are still one step ahead. You already know the ropes: where to go to obtain medical advice or emotional support. You know where the resources are available and how to go about to get them. In some ways, this knowledge can make acceptance easier.
You may remember from your initial diagnosis of prostate cancer that many of your fears originated from not knowing what to expect. The coping mechanisms you learned previously will still be very relevant at this time. Educate yourself about what to expect from your new treatment; ask your doctor and nurse any questions that are on your mind; talk about your anxieties with the healthcare team, family members, and close friends or in a support group. Sharing with people who have experienced the same situation can go a long way to alleviate your fears. It can be a lot easier to cope when you understand what is going on.
At this time, you can expect to go through similar up-and-down periods as the first time you fought the cancer. Try to focus on the good days: there will be more. Keep yourself busy while respecting your energy level limitations. Have realistic goals. Do those activities you most enjoy with your loved ones. Take pleasure in every moment you can!