When my father had his bout with prostate cancer, he was already retired and out of the workforce; telling his immediate family and friends was his main concern. I remember getting the call where he revealed the situation: he explained that his primary care physician had tested him and he had then had a biopsy to confirm the cancer. Having been in the health field, I already knew that prostate cancer is not uncommon in older men, and that the odds of recovery are very good. And being his daughter I was very grateful that he frankly told me about his situation.
Here are some ways to bring up the personal discussion about having prostate issues (cancerous or not), to sensitively let your loved ones and those who need to know about your condition:
Telling Immediate Family and Friends
When revealing a health situation to those close to you, especially such a sensitive concern as prostate issues, it's important to be frank and to-the-point. Many people do not understand about prostate conditions, but they will likely understand that issues with the urinary/reproductive systems are serious.
Offer website information to those close to you in an attempt to make them more knowledgeable about your situation. Great sites include Health Central's own Prostate Commons homepage, MayoClinic.com, and National Institutes of Health.
If you'd like some moral support and you feel comfortable, offer select loved ones the opportunity to visit with your doctor and you during a routine visit. This gives them the chance to ask direct questions about your situation to a medical professional.
Telling Young Children
If you have children or grandchildren under the age of 18, you may wonder how to broach this topic. It's still important for you to be honest with them, since children can usually sense tension and fear from their parents or grandparents. At the same time, it's best to give information in an age-appropriate manner. Children under the age of 10 may just need to know that daddy or grandpa is sick, but is working on getting better. Children ages 10 and over can benefit from learning a little more about the situation, but guage whether young teens might be embarrassed by the topic. A good description of the situation would be to explain that it is a urinary system health issue. For older children, perhaps offer the same website links listed above.
Telling Others Who Need to Know
As for acquaintances and more distant relationships -- bosses, coworkers, friends-of-friends -- it's okay to keep facts to a minimum. If the information is necessary, such as for a boss and close coworkers to manuever your time off from work, then a frank but short description should suffice. For all others, it is your perogative to reveal or not reveal.
Published On: August 31, 2010