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Unmet need New program for men with prostate cancer shows promising results


first_imgHALIFAX — Five men with prostate cancer sit in a tight circle, speaking of the sadness that overcame them when treatments led to impotency, a lack of bladder control and bouts of anxiety.They’re sharing their experiences at the end of an innovative 28-day program that has dealt with some very sensitive issues.“I was depressed before … and this program brought me out of it,” Dane Berringer says during a recent gathering at Dalhousie University in Halifax.The new Patient Empowerment Program (PEP) is part of a broader effort by the health system to help the roughly 23,000 men diagnosed annually with prostate cancer.Developed by Dalhousie University researcher Gabriela Ilie and radiation oncologist Dr. Rob Rutledge, the program includes, among other things, pelvic exercises to reduce incontinence and counselling that teaches men how intimacy goes deeper than sex.While surgery, radiation and hormone treatments can lead to a cure, those treatments can leave wounds.For Berringer, the surgery caused nerve damage near his prostate, a walnut-sized gland above the genitals. The injury has limited the 60-year-old educator’s ability to have erections — a common side effect that often leads to feelings of guilt, loss and inadequacy.However, time spent with his wife in couples’ therapy has helped him accept “there’s more to life than penetrational sex.”When men lose sexual and urinary functions, many are left to cope on their own, according to Prostate Cancer Canada.“There is currently an unmet need in our health care system to identify and understand sexuality issues related to prostate cancer … both for heterosexual men and the LGBTQ community,” Stuart Edmonds, director of research at the non-profit group, said an email.Rutledge, who practises at the Nova Scotia Cancer Centre in Halifax, says it’s a “silent epidemic.”He says too many men turn inward and develop mental illnesses related to their distress.A recent survey of more that 400 prostate cancer patients in the Maritimes found 19 per cent suffered from depression and anxiety. Over 70 per cent reported challenges with sex and intimacy.Ilie says many men associate intercourse with how they connect to their partners. When impotency sets in, they lose “a navigation system.”“Men aren’t like women,” says Ilie. “They don’t go outward and seek advice. They go inward … It becomes crucial therefore to find tools that … bring their feelings to the surface.”Aside from couples counselling, the PEP program also teaches men how to find alternative forms of intimacy.“There’s 65 different ways they can connect (with their partners),” says Rutledge. “Go on a date with your partners, plan something. … Ask for a hug sometimes.”As well, a buddy system encourages the men in the group to keep in touch on a weekly basis.Mel Bartlett, 61, says daily exercises and better eating habits helped him lose ten pounds, and special pelvic exercises helped end urinary incontinence.“My prostate cancer is gone, but I’m not cured of the consequences … and the treatment of it,” says the retired actuary.“What this has done has treated the patient wholistically. It’s tied all the pieces together.”Meditation is also part of the program.When the men gathered at the beginning and end of the program, they were given small monitors to measure their progress in learning to quiet their minds.Ross MacDonald, a pastor at Grace Chapel, says the program has helped him cope with the emotional pain that comes with erectile dysfunction and the “hot flashes” caused by hormone therapy.“There’s a grieving that comes in terms of losing that aspect of our relationship,” he says.“(However), the fact that I’m exercising, I’m eating well, I’m meditating and practising quiet … It’s all been very helpful for me, but I know the depression is there.”Preliminary results from PEP program have been encouraging.After four weeks, the average weight and blood pressure readings for the men went down. Strength levels — measured by hand grips — “significantly improved,” Ilie says.“On average, our men reported fewer concerns about feeling a burden to others, feeling alone, having relationship difficulties, feeling sad (and) feeling angry.”Concerns about intimacy and bodily changes caused by medication were also reduced.The key to the program, says Berringer, is the close contact of the group.“If you just say, ‘Here’s an exercise system, go do it,’ you won’t recreate this,” he says. “The human aspect is what they’re seeing here.”— Follow (at)mtuttoncporg on Twitter.Michael Tutton, The Canadian Presslast_img read more


Budget cuts hurt but necessary says TCI Deputy Premier in parliamentary debate


first_imgFacebook Twitter Google+LinkedInPinterestWhatsApp TCI Country Leaders condemn vicious memes #tcibudgetdebate2018  #hurricaneirma  #hurricanemaria  #seanastwood Recommended for you Facebook Twitter Google+LinkedInPinterestWhatsAppGrand Turk, Turks and Caicos Islands – February 7, 2018 – Budget cuts to accommodate new spending demands were painful as government projects and departments had to fiscally re-calibrate in order to accommodate important costs associated with repatriation of illegal migrants and the September 2017 hurricanes.Deputy Premier, Hon Sean Astwood aimed to roll back the curtain on what was happening behind the scenes as the PDM Administration led the re-organization of the already passed 2017-2018 National Budget.The Government has been heavily criticized as having had a slow response to reconstruction in the aftermath of the ferocious storms.  However, the Deputy Premier, also the Border Control Minister disagrees with that characterization.“We have heard how this country has bounced back to our new normalcy in record time, and we have also heard how many – not just the political opposite – but many have tried to discredit the works of this Government and our direct involvement in making sure that persons who can now sit at home in the comforts of air condition, who can now pick up their mobile cell phones and WhatsApp any derogatory criticism or comment that they may decide to make – I would like for all of them to stop for just one second Mr.  Speaker and take a full assessment of what it took to restore such comforts back to them.”Almost four months to the day of the dismal encounter all of the Turks and Caicos Islands with Hurricane Irma, the Border Control Minister during House of Assembly debate on the changes to the budget, shared his experience while visiting another territory smashed by Irma:  Antigua and Barbuda.  Barbuda was so badly damaged in the historic hurricane, which measured well above 200 mph wind speeds, that it remains evacuated, completely inhabitable.“Two weeks ago I went to Antigua and Barbuda for a Summit on 21st Century Governance.  Mr. Speaker the island of Barbuda is still a disaster zone. One cannot enter the island without direct government permission because of the current state of that island.  Yet we here in the Turks and Caicos, we moan and we groan when the wind don’t blow, when the sun is too hot, when it rains the extra day, when the phone calls drop for a second, Mr. Speaker, we ought to be careful.  This supplementary is a response to all that I have just mentioned, it is a response of this Government to set new priorities to deal with the new realities.”Hon Astwood said the Supplementary, which includes a $600,000 increase to his Ministry for illegal migrant repatriation expenditure is a response to the needs of the country, evidence that the PDM Administration is paying attention and rightly responding to hurricane reconstruction and border protection.“My same ministry would have gotten cuts in other areas and it hurts… to lose even a dollar we don’t want to lose it but we understand the needs and overall objective of the Ministry of Finance.  We know they did not just sit down and arbitrarily decide to get rid of a project, to cut spending by ‘x’ percentage that is not an easy decision to make.  I don’t think that the Premier, her PS or anybody, the Budget Director – anyone sits down having a good time in that exercise.  So for persons to characterize this as some simple exercise, some ‘willy-nilly’ approach to governance where decisions are being made that affects the lives of our people, Mr. Speaker I don’t understand how anyone could think that’s a trivial matter that somehow the politics of things is more important than the lives of our people….  Mr. Speaker this supplementary is no politics.”The Deputy further exposed that there were professional rows between ministers, permanent secretaries and departments as the country re-prioritised spending to pay for three exceptional areas of expense, namely:  hurricane Irma and Maria clean up, overage in health care abroad costs and the budget busting repatriation of illegal migrants.“I am sure the Permanent Secretary of Finance was hearing from other PSes that, ‘you can’t so that, you can’t take this from me!’ because that is what Ministers were saying to the Premier, you can’t take this from me, I need that.  But collectively Mr. Speaker, with prudent leadership and a focus on where this country is now and where it needs to go we are here today in full support of the premier and her ministry of this Supplementary.”Deputy Premier Astwood wrapped up his contribution on with a declaration of support of the proposed budgetary changes, making the statement that the PDM Administration is not only working hard, but producing.“This supplementary is a short term measure to get us through the rest of this financial year and I commend the Premier and her staff for doing a good job.”The Budget Supplementary passed through the Turks and Caicos House of Assembly on Tuesday February 6, 2018 on the eve of the four month anniversary of Hurricane Irma.center_img Related Items:#magneticmedianews, house of assembly, Pdm, sean astwood TCI Premier blasts Opposition side for “slop” information, sets it straight in HOA Only Doug and Ralph and Ruth can fit, that’s whylast_img read more