Heather and Martin underwent Radical Prostatectomy in May 2016. We made this video series together in June 2017.
They describe their journey post-surgery and what helped along the way.
This is Heather and Martin. I met them in late 2016 when I was practising as an Intimacy Consultant. In this role I would give couples the space to talk about re-navigating their sexual relationship after a big life change. We would discuss what being intimate meant to them and how that had now changed. They would leave with strategies and tools to help them move forward.
In Heather and Martin's case, they were 6 months into managing the aftershock of prostatectomy (the surgical removal of a cancerous prostate gland), in particular, how to enjoy sexuality given that arousal no longer led to spontaneous erections (most men experience this after prostate cancer treatment and it is normal to find this challenging to deal with when it happens).
Heather and Martin's story inspired my current prostate cancer focused practice today at Cancer Specialists. Their persistence to find solutions and take control of their recovery made it clear that most people after treatment do not by default have access to resources and ideas around managing sexuality-related challenges typical after prostate removal treatment - whether that be to optimise their chances of recovering erectile functioning or enjoying pleasure in a partnership without erections. As Martin says in this introduction :
'the symptoms of prostate cancer beforehand are minimal, afterwards is when you strike the symptoms of the condition'
This video series was co-created as a voluntary project with Heather and Martin and the expertise of my good friend and film producer/storyteller Jayde Harding. Our intention is to offer an ongoing recovery story for others going through this journey. We want to show that you are not alone and give you ideas help you regain confidence, connection and control along the way.
Please keep in mind while watching this that every person's journey will be different, this is one partnership's tale and may not reflect your own.
CHAPTER ONE : Mindset.
Research looking at what helps the most during a recovery journey often points to 'mindset' : how a person thinks about or frames problems and situations. We do not usually talk about 'mindset' in day to day chit-chat and it's not something we get taught at school - so what kind of mindset do Heather and Martin feel they've had during the prostate cancer journey? How did they think about their challenges in order to cope and keep searching for options and ideas?
CHAPTER TWO : Incontinence.
Martin expected the worst from the incontinence - was it as bad as he expected? How did he come to terms with having to wear pads?
CHAPTER THREE : New Sexual Landscape.
We could be coy about this one, but if you've read and watched this far we will safely assume that erections and physical intimacy after prostate cancer are on your mind. If you're about to go through treatment or you have done then you've probably read and heard more about erections than you thought you ever would in your lifetime. This is often the least spoken about and most confronting part of the prostate cancer journey. In this video Martin talks candidly about specifically why he and Heather visited an intimacy consultant, what they expected and what happened during the appointment.