Prostate Cancer and Gratitude for a Facebook Group

Pixabay: marijana 1 Free for commercial use; no attribution required

Bubba had been monitoring his PSA tests for prostate cancer for a while when things shifted from Active Surveillance (yes, that’s a term) to time-to-act. Bubba is a voracious reader and researcher. He read: books, articles, medical studies. He talked with a friend who’d gone through a prostate cancer diagnosis 10-years earlier. But other than one friend, it was a solitary exploration.

Years ago, I joined a Facebook Group for women going grey. No, it’s nothing like cancer, and yet, it was comforting and helpful to spend time with people going through a shared experience. I appreciated the support and the vulnerability people shared as they dealt with insensitive comments, insecurities, doubts and successes.  I suggested to Bubba there might be a similar group for prostate cancer.

The Prostate Cancer Support Group he joined has over 10,000 people—men and women—from around the world. After joining, reading, asking questions, and commenting, Bubba told me he was glad I’d suggested it; said I might want to join. I’m glad I did.  The group has been a blessing. In appreciation of the group and the people there—all going through an incredibly difficult time—I posted this to the group page.


I’ve told many people how grateful I am for this group. Not for why it exists, but that it does. It helped my partner decide what treatment to select after the doctor told him he could no longer watch and wait. It’s given me a place to gain perspective and wisdom. Not just about prostate cancer, but about life.

The energy here is an energy of “presence” to what’s important. People talk about fears, hopes, sadness and joys with a visceral openness. People share in ways that are raw and funny, sad and heartfelt.  I’m touched by it.

I read posts and know there’s an amazing variety of people here from around the world, people I’d never meet in my day-to-day life. When someone joins this group, no one cares what type of car they drive; what they do for a living; the size of their house.  Members want to know how they can help this new arrival, this person who is trying to navigate a cancer diagnosis that devastates and scares them.

Cancer knows no boundaries.  People with cancer instantly share a connection with every other person with cancer. People of all affiliations and ages and colors and races and income and all other groups are here. Interacting; being kind; compassionate; supportive; loving.

That’s what connects us. That ability to be present to the experience and emotions of others, oblivious to labels.

For all who post and all who simply witness and learn, this group reminds me we’re all connected. For that, I’m immensely grateful. There is hope in that feeling. Thank you.


Bubba chose to have a robotic radical prostatectomy in March. He was pleased with the procedure and is doing well with his recovery. And, it’s cancer. It was surgery. There are side-effects associated with the procedure and further monitoring to be done. He’s in good shape, and he’s still on the recovery path.

And as a Public Service Announcement, don’t tell anyone with prostate cancer they have the easy cancer; per the FB Group, yes, people say that. Some with prostate cancer suffer side-effects that permanently, drastically change their lives and, for others, it’s a death sentence. If you’re a guy or know a guy, tell them to learn about the PSA test (and get theirs tested). There are guys in the FB Group in their 30’s and 40’s with prostate cancer.

 

Photo source: marijana 1 on Pixabay


 

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16 thoughts on “Prostate Cancer and Gratitude for a Facebook Group

  1. Sue

    I had thyroid cancer, and heard the same thing! “You’re lucky. If you have to have cancer, that’s the one to get.” Why wasn’t that reassuring? Because it minimizes. People don’t know what to say, so instead of saying nothing, instead of just saying “I’m sorry” or “I love you” or “I’m here for you”, they say ridiculous, inane things.

    Those groups can be a godsend. They can also be terrifying and depressing. Very few people are active in those groups who’ve had good outcomes. They’re either newbies or people with ongoing problems. If one is aware of that, it can be useful! Good luck to Bubba!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sue, I hope you are fully free of the cancer. And stay clear.

      Apparently there’s a hierarchy of cancers in peoples’ minds. I know some cancers have higher mortality rates and/or aren’t treatable by the time they’ve been diagnosed. Others have better treatment options. It results in people responding from where on the hierarchy a particular cancer is. Good outcomes likely? “Lucky you!” Not so good? I’ve no idea what they say. “That sucks?”

      Your observation is similar to mine; people don’t know what to say and in their moment of discomfort, words–designed, I like to think, to be comforting–pop out that are anything but. I like your suggestions; short, simple, responsive to the other person. I don’t think most of us have much experience around disease and death and we’re crappy at knowing what to do or say. Well, I speak for myself, anyway. And…I’m learning, having lost my mom last year.

      You’re right about the groups. They can be terrifying and depressing. They aren’t right for everyone, and may not be right for one person at different phases. At least with this group, there are active members with good outcomes, and I think that’s part of why it feels as if it covers the full continuum of experiences. And, it’s good to be aware that won’t be the case with all groups.

      Thanks for your wishes for Bubba. They’re definitely welcomed. And good health to you.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for the Bubba wishes.

      I was glad I joined the going gray group. There were two on Facebook and another completely unrelated. I’ll find that address and send it to you. I was there first, before I knew about FB Groups.

      Like

      1. Some women have beautiful gray hair, alas, mine is a little rat like so, dye I must. I think it’s truly great there are groups for grays. Any gathering with peers seems to hold us up. I’m in a 12 Step program that feels like a flotation device. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  2. First of all, I love that he’s called Bubba, and how admirable he is to be so candid and open about his plight. What I’ve learned is, people sharing their trials humble the rest of us making it possible to honestly, share our own.

    We are as sick as our secrets, as they say in Alcoholics Anonymous, and to reveal is to be free.

    God bless Bubba. Susannah

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Someone posted they’re a Brene Brown fan, in particular her books on being vulnerable. If it wasn’t you, that’s who your comment made me think of. There is something about hearing of someone else’s trials that invite others to let down their own walls.

      I didn’t know the AA quote. It reminds me of the idea that we need light to shine into a damp cellar if we want it to dry out. Our darkness is better with light.

      Thanks for your comments; and your Bubba blessings ❤❤

      Liked by 1 person

      1. AA brims over with sayings meant to comfort and strengthen. You hear stories in there that make you realize yours isn’t so bad, and that people survive amazing challenges, in general. We’re designed to recover and by holding hands, something that’s done at the end of every meeting, grace escorts you out. I think that’s probably the case in all support groups. Our trials link us.

        Liked by 1 person

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