Stress and prostate cancer – Wives/partners must cope with both

Studies report that spouses and partners suffer just as much — if not more — stress than their men with prostate cancer.

It’s not surprising.  It is incredibly hard to have to watch your loved one have to go through so much.

What causes stress?

Stress occurs when our bodies react to a perceived problem, threat, or danger that can be real or imagined.

When the threat is real (like a car veering into our lane on the highway), our body reacts with a surge of stress hormones.  These include adrenaline and cortisol, which give us the energy and alertness we need to quickly steer our car away from being hit.

Once the danger has passed our:

  • Heart stops racing
  • Muscles loosen
  • Blood pressure returns to normal again

But sometimes our body reacts to internal fears or worries that can cause us to have the same surge of stress hormones.

When this continues over time, the effects can wreak havoc on our bodies and our minds. Read more about different types of stress and how they can affect you.

Prostate cancer is a little of both

If you look at the top 10 stressful events of life, illness is number six.

That means having a loved one with prostate cancer is a major source of anxiety!

A lot can affect the way we manage stress, including:

  • What we think about prostate cancer
  • Our outlook on life
  • How we were brought up
  • Our genetic makeup

Take our quiz to learn more about how you may react to stress.

It’s your cancer, too

The fact that prostate cancer is physically in your loved one’s body (and not yours) does not mean that you are immune to the anxiety that he may be feeling.

While there are no magical solutions, we offer many articles that may help you cope with the anxiousness that comes with loving a man with prostate cancer, including:

American Psychological Association. Accessed January 15, 2009.

Hagedoorn M, Buunk BP, Kuijer RG, Wobbes T, Sanderman R. Couples dealing with cancer: role and gender differences regarding psychological distress and quality of life. Psycho-Oncology. 2000;9(3):232-242.

Mayo Clinic Family Health Book, 3rd edition. Litin SC, ed. HarperResource. New York, NY: 2003; 1220-1226.

Helpguide. Accessed January 15, 2009.

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