Men's Health Week Q&A
With Julian Pollard
Monday 15 to Sunday 21 June was Men’s Health Week, a week dedicated to raising awareness of issues facing men’s health in the UK, such as cancer.
Julian Pollard, Cancer Information Clinical Nurse Specialist at Big C, has answered some of the most common questions relating to cancer and men’s mental and physical wellbeing.
Q: What is an issue for men regarding cancer?
A: Although things have started to improve over the past few years, one issue facing men’s health with regards to cancer is early diagnosis.
It is important that men are aware of what is normal for their bodies and to reach out to their GP if they have any concerns about their physical or mental health. When cancer is diagnosed earlier, treatment has a better chance of being successful.
Q: What are some common concerns for men who have been diagnosed with cancer?
A: Often, both men and women have similar concerns when it comes to being diagnosed with cancer. A lot of these are themed around health, finances, diagnosis and loved ones.
For instance, some of the common questions we are asked at Big C are:
- How will I be able to take care of my loved ones?
- What happens if I must stop working?
- How will this affect my relationships?
- What should I do to improve or maintain my physical health?
- What happens with end-of-life and palliative care treatment? What will it be like?
The answers to some of these questions will be dependent on the individual and their diagnosis. Our Support and Information team are here to listen and offer practical advice regarding any questions or concerns you may have.
Q: What support is available from Big C for men diagnosed with cancer?
A: Big C provides a variety of support for anyone diagnosed with cancer.
Although our Centres are temporarily closed due to COVID-19, we offer a variety support over the phone and online such as:
- Counselling over the phone and through video chat
- Online support groups such as our Men’s Support Group, a peer support group for men diagnosed with cancer
- Welfare Advice service in partnership with Citizens Advice Diss, Thetford & District
- Welfare packs, with home comfort items
Q: What advice and support would you give to a man diagnosed with cancer who is concerned about how it will affect their relationship?
A: This can be quite a common concern for men. Sometimes, men can find it quite difficult to broach this subject with their partner, friends or family. One way we Big C can help is through our counselling service, which can either be 1-on-1 or with family/couples therapy.
Another way Big C can help is through our Men’s Support Group. A lot of the service users part of this group find it easier to talk with their peers about their concerns and find advice from those going through a similar experience.
Lastly, our Cancer Specialist Nurses are also able to talk through any effects cancer may have regarding physical changes, such as erectile dysfunction. We also recommend the Macmillan Cancer webpage Sex and Cancer.
Q: What advice and support would you give to a man diagnosed with cancer who is concerned about his physical wellbeing?
A: How someone can maintain their physical health before, during and after treatment is dependent on the type of cancer and treatment a person has received. Later this year, Big C is launching a physical activity programme to support our service users to improve their wellbeing and feel confident to become more active. This programme will take into account individuals needs and wishes.
Q:What is Big C’s Mens Support Group like? What is some common feedback you’ve received from the men who attend it?
A: Our Men’s Support Group is a non-judgemental, confidential group for men diagnosed with cancer where they can receive peer support and explore some of their thoughts and feelings.
Currently, our group is meeting online every two weeks via Zoom.
These meetings are facilitated by a member of the Support and Information team (like myself), but topics of discussion are often decided by the members of the group.
They’re great places to talk about relationships, family and any other concerns. But also, our service users talk about other things such as sport, hobbies and much more. It’s a great group to be part of and many of the men have become friends because of it.
Q: What support is available at Big C for men caring for someone with cancer?
At Big C, we know cancer can affect those around us too. Our services are also available for family, friends, carers and those close to someone diagnosed with cancer. Many of our services, such as our counselling services, welfare advice, complementary therapies and more are available.
Alongside this, we also have launched our Online Carers Group, where people caring for someone diagnosed with cancer can meet others going through a similar situation, via Zoom.
Q: What other organisations do you recommend for men diagnosed with cancer?
Big C support is available for anyone affected by cancer. For more information, call us at 0800 092 7640 (free to call, Monday to Friday 9am-5pm)