Recovering and rehabilitation after prostate cancer treatment
It can take a while to recover after you finish treatment for prostate cancer. You may still need to have regular doctor appointments, PSA tests and/or other tests to monitor your health. It’s normal to feel anxious every time you have a follow-up appointment, but if you don’t experience any problems these appointments are likely to occur less often.
Make sure that you take good care of yourself and allow plenty of time to recover. Don’t push yourself, do what’s right for you and your loved ones.
Supporting your mind and body
Being a cancer survivor can be challenging. You might feel sad, worried that the cancer will come back, or pressured to return to your normal life before you are ready. These emotions are normal. It will take time to adjust. You can find ways to improve your mental and emotional wellbeing by following the link to: Psychological Wellbeing
Staying active and eating well are also important for your recovery and rehabilitation.
- Lose weight if you need to – a healthy weight can improve your overall health, reduce bothersome symptoms and side effects and increase your feelings of wellbeing
- Exercise regularly – regular physical activity can help you feel strong and well
- Balance rest with daily physical activity – don’t push yourself
- Eat healthy foods – a healthy diet will help you maintain a healthy weight, improve your sense of health, vitality and wellbeing, and may also help your recovery from treatment
- Quit smoking – smoking can slow down the healing process
- Prevent constipation – eat plenty of fibre, healthy foods and drink enough fluid in the weeks before, during and after treatments, especially surgery, to prevent constipation
Follow the links below to find out how to find support for all these areas:
Rest is also as important as being physically active, particularly in the early stages following treatment. Many men report their treatment side effects are worse at the end of the day when they are tired or fatigued. Regular periods of rest can help minimise this.
Complementary therapies, such as meditation or yoga may also be helpful to reduce any worries, concerns or stress you may be experiencing.
If you still have physical effects from treatment, such as incontinence (bowel or urinary), you may need a ‘handy kit’ to have things available to you when you are out and about.
This may include:
- a carry bag of suitable size, with organised compartments
- medication container – may require several sections
- lubricant or skin cream
- gloves – correct size is important
- underwear (not boxer shorts)
- cleansing wipes – pre-moistened, alcohol-free baby wipes are suitable
- large plastic-backed, disposable under sheet – useful if cleaning up away from a bathroom area
- lockable plastic bags with Ziplock or fasteners – various sizes depending on need
- clothing change
- deodorising spray – not perfumed
- hand cleanser gel
- bottled water
- continence pads – experiment with the wide variety available for those that are most suitable to your comfort and purpose
Most of these items can be found in the personal care section of the supermarket or at the pharmacy.
You may also need to be prepared before you go on any trips away from your home. The following may help:
- Be aware of your timing, route, meals, and hydration
- You may wish to take some of the foods you know don’t aggravate your symptoms
- Toilet maps can be helpful to locate toilet facilities in unfamiliar areas or when planning outings
Australia-wide maps of toilets are available (see www.toiletmap.gov.au). Public facilities should have ambulant or accessible toilets with rails, fixtures and disposal bins.
Getting support from others
With encouragement from your family, friends and your healthcare team, courage to explore and trial new behaviours, flexibility and a good plan, you can gradually gain the experience you need to get back your confidence and regain your life.
Many people find that joining a support group helps because it puts them in touch with people who know exactly what they are going through.
- Living with prostate cancer continues after treatment finishes and it’s important to be patient and look after yourself as you recover
- You may still require ongoing tests and imaging scans – it is normal to feel anxious about the results
- You may have many mixed emotions and physical challenges throughout your prostate cancer experience – remember to look after your mental wellbeing, eat well and stay active
- Rest is also important, while complementary therapies may help you to relax and be mindful
- It is helpful as you recover to be prepared when you are out and about – especially if you still have physical issues, such as incontinence