Christina: “Will he survive?”

Name: Christina Örum
Family: Has been together with partner Torsten Sundberg for 30 years.
What: Her partner Torsten was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2001. He founded the prostate cancer association ProLiv Stockholm, and Christina runs the support group for relatives within the association.

“The first question you ask as a woman whose partner has been diagnosed with prostate cancer is: Will he survive? The next question is what will happen to our sex life, as it may never be the same again. It happens that the woman leaves the man, but this is not very common. Most women realise that it is what it is and we have to make the best of the situation. It’s possible to have a working sex life without it working, so to speak.

“It’s about finding each other again, and this is something that each couple must work out in their own way. And this may be difficult to talk about since ego plays a big part in addressing this problem. But my advice is not to wait too long before trying. Nowadays there are also aids and medications available. But in general, I think that the issue of potency is a bigger problem for men than women. Women are more focused on helping the man survive, getting him on a good diet.

“Torsten decided early on to undergo radiation treatment and not surgery.  He thought it sounded nice and simple, one round of radiotherapy and he would be done, but it was not as easy as that. Before radiotherapy, you have to have hormone treatment that affects the man’s libido, while the woman’s sex drive remains the same. Torsten also became irritable, had hot flashes and did not want me to touch him or get too close. This eventually got better over time but it was a tough period, maybe the toughest of the whole journey.”

As told to: Fredrik Hedlund
First published in Swedish in Medicinsk Vetenskap No 3, 2019.