Laurence, 64, is an architect, an artist, and also a prostate cancer survivor. The diagnosis at age 61 came as a huge surprise. “The news came via telephone, which was sort of a shock. I picked up the phone and was told by my doctor, ‘you have cancer’.”
In seeking out resources, Laurence joined a face-to-face CancerCare support group. Initially, he was withdrawn and overwhelmed. He also experienced a great deal of confusion and regret over the life-altering effects of his treatment choices.
Over the next several months, Laurence listened intently as the other male group members shared their experience with cancer. He began to identify with their struggles and triumphs and slowly started to open up and share his own story.
“The group as a whole has become like a unified support system where anything goes – any question, any topic, any fear,” says Laurence. “It’s about surviving our lives and it’s been very helpful. I’ve witnessed that many men are like clams and they hide. It is very important for me to be aware of my feelings and use them to see and interpret my life.”
“This has not been a sad, gloomy group. It’s a group of very intelligent men who have an amazing sense of humor. There is a lot of laughter and a lot of coming together when people are having a particular issue or fear. We’re very close as friends.”
Laurence, once hesitant to speak in front of a support group of eight, recently shared his personal experience at a national cancer symposium. His speech profoundly moved hundreds of attendees.
“I was initially terrified to get in front of that large group of people, so I decided that I would make it into a project that was satisfying to me. When I thought about what I wanted to say, I just went with it. I have to feel my way through my life – that’s how I live. That’s one of the gifts of being an artist.”
Do you want to connect with others who are facing similar challenges? CancerCare has free support groups for cancer patients, loved ones and people who have lost a loved one, led by oncology social workers.