Many men across America are tossing out their razors and not shaving for the whole month of November. Even popular television personalities such as Matt Lauer, Al Roker, Willie Geist and Carson Daly are not shaving. Why are many men across America letting their hair grow long? It’s simple: to bring awareness to men’s health. The popular topics for men’s health are prostate cancer, testicular cancer, and male breast cancer. In the spirit of “No Shave November,” I want to share some ways to help men mentally deal with cancer. Men’s mental health when dealing with cancer is sometimes forgotten and overlooked.
How to Help Men Mentally Deal with Cancer?
If you have a man in your life who has recently been diagnosed with cancer or is currently receiving treatment for cancer, you may wonder how you can you help your him? I wish there was just one answer but since every man is different there are many different answers. Be there for him. Most men don’t like to share their feelings, in general. They will normally hide or redirect what is going on in their life, especially when it is something personal like prostate or testicular cancer. So keep that in mind when you talk with men, and try not to ask too many questions. You want to be there when they are ready to talk, and try to make it feel like a normal conversation. Seek outside help. You may also want to see a counselor by yourself to talk about what you are feeling and how you can help him. Act Normal. During this time, people want to treat the person with cancer differently. They might act shy around them or hover over them. Most people with cancer just want to feel normal. So when you talk with them, just talk about what you would have talked about before they had cancer.
Dealing with Depression with Cancer
When a man goes into the doctor’s office for a checkup, not expecting to get negative results, and the doctor says, “It’s cancer,” a normal day has turned into a dreadfully awful day in just seconds. Depression can start to creep up in this man’s life, and he may start to hide how sad he feels about the cancer. You need to be aware of the signs of depression to understand what he is going through.
Signs of depression from the Mayo Clinic include:
- Feelings of sadness or unhappiness
- Irritability or frustration, even over small matters
- Loss of interest or pleasure in normal activities
- Reduced sex drive
- Insomnia or excessive sleeping
- Changes in appetite — depression often causes decreased appetite and weight loss, but in some people it causes increased cravings for food and weight gain
- Agitation or restlessness — for example, pacing, hand-wringing or an inability to sit still
- Irritability or angry outbursts
- Slowed thinking, speaking or body movements
- Indecisiveness, distractibility and decreased concentration
- Fatigue, tiredness and loss of energy — even small tasks may seem to require a lot of effort
- Feelings of worthlessness or guilt, fixating on past failures or blaming yourself when things aren’t going right
- Trouble thinking, concentrating, making decisions and remembering things
- Frequent thoughts of death, dying or suicide
- Crying spells for no apparent reason
- Unexplained physical problems, such as back pain or headaches
If you see these signs, it’s okay to seek help from a doctor or counselor. This is especially true regarding thoughts of suicide, you must make sure the person is safe.
Men Need Faith
That old saying “when the chips are down” don’t give up hope is a good one. I believe hope can make a huge difference in the whole outcome. I love this verse in Jeremiah 29:11(NIV) “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” This tells us that we can put our hope not in our body but in God, and not in this world but in Heaven. Remember to put 2 Corinthians in practice and pray, pray, pray every moment you get.
2 Corinthians 4:16-18 (ESV) ”So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.”