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Five struggles men go through when they have cancer

Health By Esther Muchene

ALSO READ: Ask the doctor: What is the link between milk and cancer?

Dealing with cancer has its own set of effects. Admittedly, you can never truly understand how it feels to get the life changing news that forces you to change your lifestyle. It requires you to be strong even when you feel like you can’t handle life anymore.

For men dealing with different types of cancer such as prostate cancer, colorectal cancer or any other type that is common in men, the impacts can be disheartening in their own way. Society has certain expectations of men in general so it can be very tough to deal with the pain.

Below are some of the struggles that men go through when they are suffering from the illness.

  1. Emotional pressure

Generally, men are looked at as strong, persistent and resilient beings. Since time in history, the society has been characterised by toxic masculinity whereby men aren’t supposed to show any sign of emotional weakness. It’s as if men are from another planet where sadness isn’t in the vocabulary. It’s only recently that men have been given room to express how they feel without being judged. In some cases however, toxic masculinity is still alive and kicking. Because of this, some men have an extremely hard time coping with fear and sadness when they are diagnosed.

They are forced to keep a straight face even when things are falling apart. When they hold their emotions back, men end up falling into depression as they battle the cancer. Made of flesh and blood like you, they should be encouraged to express themselves without fear or judgement.

  1. Social anxiety

Men dealing with cancer tend to experience some form of social anxiety. Men don’t like to feel like they are letting people down especially when they have a family. A man might also resist being treated with extra care even when it’s obvious that some assistance is needed. To avoid looking needy, men can at times alienate themselves and avoid meeting up with friends and other family members. At the same time there is also the fear of losing friends; sadly, this is also another reason why social anxiety occurs.

  1. Sexual dysfunction

As cancer develops and treatments begin, erectile dysfunction can occur as a side effect to the treatment. This is especially frustrating for men because if a man cannot satisfy his wife, he begins to feel less than a man. The fears of being cheated on or being abandoned begin to creep in. Cancers such as that of the prostrate can cause tumours to grow, which hinder normal sexual functioning. Also during treatment, the levels of testosterone end up being affected making it difficult for him to rise to the occasion.

  1. Extreme fatigue

Extreme fatigue is a common side effect of cancer. When a man is the main provider in the family, he might be unable to work and provide the way he was used to. The cancer itself as well as the treatments, cause extreme fatigue so doing simple activities becomes a task. This can be extremely scary for a man and the thoughts of not being able to provide for his family begin to creep in. Also, men can be more reluctant to admit that they are feeling overwhelmed during this period. It’s best to be supportive and not treat them too differently at this time.

It is at this time he needs his family and friends most to help in chores, finances etc.

  1. Suicidal thoughts

Generally, we know that suicide rates are notably higher in men than in women. Although the gap between male and female suicide rates has narrowed down, it’s still more prevalent in men. When you add that with dealing with cancer, men can feel more overwhelmed. There are still many cases of suicide rates among diagnosed men. This shows that it’s still a challenge that men face while dealing with cancer.

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