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Dying men defy taboos about prostate cancer to help others

Clinical lead at Prostate Cancer UK explains the importance of sharing end of life stories

‘I do not want to know how long, I do not want to be forever looking at a clock on the wall and thinking time is running out…’

These are the words of Mick who sadly died from prostate cancer in 2014. Unfortunately, ignoring prostate cancer won’t stop it any more than ignoring the clock will give a man precious extra time. So during this Dying Matters Awareness Week, a group of men facing death from advanced prostate cancer - and loved ones of those like Mick already claimed by the disease - have told their stories in a bid to help others.

Of the 47,000 fathers, brothers and sons who are diagnosed with prostate cancer every year in the UK, one in three will die from it.

Prostate Cancer UK has launched a unique support site to help men facing death from advanced prostate cancer. It is designed to guide them and their families as they get to grips with the shock and confusion of a terminal prognosis.

Facing up to death can be incredibly hard but being practical and getting some control back can help. The site provides information about what to expect and how to prepare – all the things people might want to know but may be too afraid to ask family or friends.

When Mo’s late husband Mick was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2013, it took a number of weeks for him to start talking about his prognosis.

Mo recalls: ‘A few weeks after his diagnosis, Mick surprised me by asking me to sit down and go through everything with him. Nothing too specific at this stage – just sharing our thoughts on what we could do to be prepared for his death. Whether it was six months or three years away, we would still need to be prepared.

‘We made a list of things to deal with. It covered finances, communication with friends and family, funeral wishes, end of life care, and holiday planning. In the end Mick was very open, which made the difficult conversations not quite so difficult.’

It’s important that men and nurses working with them are aware that plenty of information and support is available to help them and their families understand more about what to expect as prostate cancer progresses and how to manage problems, such as pain or sickness.

As well as our new support site, we have a group of specialist nurses who can provide information to men, their families and health professionals. They can be contacted on 0800 074 8383 or via a Live Chat instant messaging service.

Further information for men living with advanced prostate cancer and their families is available at: http://prostatecanceruk.org/dying-from-prostate-cancer

About the author

Karen Sumpter is clinical lead at Prostate Cancer UK

Karen Sumpter is clinical lead at Prostate Cancer UK

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