‘A lot of gay men don’t have the family support that a lot of straight men have got. A lot of straight men have got wives and children who might say ‘dad’s in trouble, let’s give him some help’. They’ve got a loving family and that’s half of the battle.’
Support groupsThe support network for gay and bisexual men can be different to that for straight men. Depending on whether they are ‘out’ to their families, and whether their families are supportive, they may not be able to count on them for support. It is common for gay and bisexual men to have ‘surrogate families’ that are made up of friends for mutual support. Some gay and bisexual men have neither their families of origin nor surrogate families for support. If this is your experience, one way to connect with other people is by joining a support group with people who have a similar experience to you. For gay and bisexual men, research shows many positives can come out of getting the appropriate social support – e.g. feeling less anxious in social situations and increased self–esteem.
- Also, research shows that people who join a support group feel:
- a sense of belonging
- a sense of community
- as though they are not alone
- accepted and supported
- as though they are being cared for
- safe to express their feelings and fears.
There are support groups specifically for gay and bisexual men with prostate cancer, please visit www.pcfa.org.au. In addition to face–to–face support groups, telephone and internet support are also available (for contact details, please see the ‘Organisations and services’ section further on).Your GP
Your GP can help coordinate your care and provide you and your partner with support and information to help you make informed choices about treatment. Your GP can also help you, and those close to you, manage your ongoing physical and emotional health needs throughout the cancer journey.Health professionals
In getting the support you need, you may also like to see other health professionals as well as joining a support group. Under the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS), people who have a chronic medical condition (e.g. cancer) are able to access the following services: multidisciplinary care, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health practitioner, Aboriginal health worker, audiologist, chiropractor, diabetes educator, dietician, exercise physiologist, mental health worker, occupational therapist, osteopath, physiotherapist, podiatrist, psychologist, speech pathologist (see www.health.gov.au).
Specifically relating to mental health, also through the MBS, the Better Access initiative allows you to get Medicare rebates for selected mental health services offered by GPs, psychiatrists, psychologists, and eligible social workers and occupational therapists (see www.health.gov.au/mentalhealth–betteraccess). Financial assistance
Department of Human Services provides payments and services to help you if you have an illness, injury or a disability that means you cannot work, or can only do a limited amount of work www.humanservices.gov.au/customer/subjects/payments–for–people–living–with–illness–or–disability
Medicare covers some of the costs of procedures and tests used to diagnose prostate cancer, but there may be some ‘out–of–pocket’ costs. Your doctor can answer your questions about why you need certain procedures and tests and so you can prepare for any financial outlays.
Talk to a member of your healthcare team (e.g. social worker) about what financial and practical support services are available. Talk to your local Medicare office about the ‘Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme Safety Net’ and the ‘Medicare Safety Net’ on costs of medications and medical bills.