When you become a care partner, you may find yourself in a new role. This can be challenging if you’re caring for a spouse or partner who has been a part of your life before or after they started their prostate cancer journey.

It’s common to feel overwhelmed, and it’s OK to ask for help.

Many care partners say that, looking back, they took too much on themselves. Or, they wish they had asked for help from friends or family sooner. Take an honest look at what you can and can’t do on your own, especially as their support needs change throughout their prostate journey.

Whatever your situation, it can be tough to balance caring for a loved one with other parts of life — your career, children, and even your health.

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“As my husband’s voice of reason, I’ve always encouraged him to talk to his family members and make having discussions related to health history the norm.”

Jay R.,

Care Partner

There’s nothing you won’t do to keep your family and friends’ health on the right track. You play a special role in the lives of the men you care and look out for. In fact, you’re usually the one looking for new information and sharing it with them. Starting the prostate cancer (PC) conversation with him may not feel like the most popular topic to chat about, especially if he doesn’t bring it up.

Here are some ways to add PC to the conversation to get him talking that talk about his own prostate health:

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Family History of Cancer

For relatives like fathers, brothers, sons, uncles, or nephews, our own personal medical history of breast cancer or ovarian cancer can increase their risk of having PC.

The BRCA genes help the body repair DNA damage. But these BRCA genes can also be damaged. Damaged genes are known as mutations, and can be passed down by either parent. A BRCA gene blood test can tell you if BRCA genes have mutated. This can be a sign that someone is at higher risk of other cancers, including PC. BRCA gene mutations have also been linked to more aggressive forms of PC.

Getting tested for BRCA on your own could give you some important information that affects your loved ones’ risk of PC and help you better understand your risk for certain cancers.

Let’s talk with the men in our lives about our shared family history so we’re fully informed about what we all have to watch out for.

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Remind Him of How Much He’s Needed

If he feels fine, it may be hard to get him to see the doctor. Bring all of the important things he’s grateful for to his attention and help him see how prostate health is a part of total health. There’s so much to remind him of, including:

  • Achievements — such as an upcoming promotion, his dreams, or his purpose
  • Loved ones — those that not only rely on him, but thrive because he is around
  • Legacy — being a pillar that supports the lives he touches and how his presence teaches lessons today that live on tomorrow

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Signs and Symptoms

You may have a good sense of his routine and habits. Some men do not show any symptoms, but if you notice a change in his behavior, it might be time to encourage him to see a doctor. Here’s a list of PC signs and symptoms to watch out for:

  • Constant back or hip pain
  • Changes in how frequently he urinates
  • Difficulty during sex to get or keep an erection
  • Blood in his semen

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The Sexual Health of a Partner

Because the prostate impacts the penis, many men may not be open to talking about all the things connected to it — including sex. If your partner is experiencing sexual changes while seeking PC care, keeping the lines of communication open, and letting him know that prioritizing his health is what’s most important may be the message he needs to hear. Make a plan together and discuss options to improve sexual health with his doctor. If you need more help once treatment starts, counseling is one way to focus on intimacy.

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We Have Valuable Experience Managing Our Own Health

As care partners, people lean on us to help navigate the challenges of the healthcare system. We may also feel an added sense of duty to provide care. If you naturally seek regular care, sharing tips on how you build relationships with your doctor, questions to ask, or even your personal story can help break down conversation barriers that can get him to start talking that talk about his own health.

When you’re helping a loved one through their prostate health journey, there are several questions to keep track of. They might even be different from the questions he has in mind. Choosing what to do next can be difficult, but having the right information and the full picture of any next steps is vital.

Here are some questions you can bring up with his doctor:

General Information

  • How can I help him learn about prostate cancer?
  • Will his insurance cover this screening or treatment?
  • How often should he have PSA screenings?
  • What preparation is needed for prostate cancer screening? How can I help?

Doctors’ Appointments

  • What information do I need if he needs help scheduling his appointments?
  • Are there any release forms he needs to fill out to allow him to share medical information with me?
  • Is a follow-up visit necessary? If so, what appointments should I attend with him?
  • What should we be looking out for? Will you call us about the results?

Follow-up Care

  • What should we do next if something is abnormal?
  • If we have concerns, how can I help him get a second opinion?
  • What’s the best way to communicate with the medical team moving forward?
  • Are there any foods or lifestyle changes that I can help him with?
Your talk, your walk handbook

Your Talk, Your Walk  Handbook

Your handbook is a resource designed to help you learn about your prostate health in the way that works best for you. Learn about screening, prostate cancer, and potential treatment options at your own pace and understand what comes next.

Navigating the health care system is tough.

Phone calls. Doctors’ visits. Medical records. Insurance coverage. Billing statements. Health care portal passwords. There are many moving parts to help manage. It’s even possible that your health care system recently changed the location or access to services. All these changes can make the process even more challenging. Know that you’re doing your best; we’re here to help.

Here are some steps you can take to help him receive the prostate health services he needs:

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Document His Care

Keep a journal of interactions with his doctor, medical office, pharmacy, and billing staff. Record the date, time, person, department, and content discussed.

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Access His Medical Records

As a care partner, you can request access to digital or physical medical record copies, but the person you care for will need to give the doctor and care team permission first. Talk with him and his doctor about the necessary paperwork you’d need to complete. That way, you’ll be able to communicate with his doctor and review visit notes, lab results, and future appointments.

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Express Financial Obstacles

Openly express financial barriers that may prevent his medical services or medication recommendations. And knowledge of insurance coverage helps prevent surprise bills. Once his care team knows, they may recommend medication assistance programs that can support him.

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Request a Second Opinion

Actively listening and participating during his doctor’s visits help build a relationship with his care team. However, if you feel like your or your loved one’s concerns are going unheard, you can always look for a second opinion. A second opinion helps him make well-informed decisions. It’s important to feel as knowledgeable as possible.

As a care partner, you may have to decipher medical information, help schedule visits, solve financial matters, and be a source of emotional support for the Black man you care about in his cancer journey. You do so much for him and everyone — and we respect that!

Support Yourself While Supporting Him

Being a care partner can also be overwhelming! It requires patience and empathy, as well as physical and emotional endurance. Taking care of yourself allows you to be there for him as well. The good news is that there are strategies to cope with stress and resources at your disposal.

He may not always admit it or know how to express it, but he needs you. And we know you need help, too!

Here are some potential helpful resources:

Help for cancer caregivers logo
Help for cancer caregivers
Caregiver action network (CAN) logo
Caregiver Action Network
Cancer Support Community: community is stronger than cancer logo
Cancer Support Community
Uber Health logo
Uber Health
Check to see if your doctor partners with Uber for travel support

Care partner tools made available by The Mighty -

This site is published by Janssen Biotech, Inc. The above links to third-party resources are provided as a service to our website visitors and may be helpful to them along their prostate health journey. This site is not intended to provide medical advice. You should always talk to your doctor and health care team about any medical decisions and concerns.