On the occasion of Father’s Day, I wanted to take some time to reflect on the men in the lives of women who are dealing with breast cancer. I have so many feelings and thoughts on these men who support women in any stage of breast cancer. Some men feel powerless or give in to their own selfishness and leave a relationship due to cancer. Fortunately, I do not believe that is the normal reaction, and most men weather the storm.
Recently, I had a scare with one of my implants, which led me to make an appointment with my plastic surgeon. As I sat in the waiting room for a long time, I observed the people around me. Keep in mind that the department I go to is only for women who have breast cancer. My first observation is sad because of how many women are in the office. Too many. Breast cancer is a devastating cancer that touches too many lives of all ages. My second observation is happy because of how many men accompanied their wives, mothers, daughters, partners, sisters, or aunts. Each appeared to be full of kindness and concern.
Sitting in the office took my memory back to the first time that I sat in the same office for the first time with my husband. We had recently learned that I had DCIS (ductal carcinoma in situ) breast cancer and were told that I needed a mastectomy. My dad urged me to get a second opinion, just for my own peace of mind. From day one, my dad supported me with information and companionship. So, I made the appointment and sat next to my husband.
I felt nervous and scared to be in a cancer hospital. All of it felt unreal, especially upon seeing how many other women were here for the same reason. But I wasn’t alone. My husband supported me from day one. I know a cancer diagnosis caught him off guard, as he was in his last semester of nursing school. But somehow he managed to put me first, and be there for any doctor’s appointment that he could. He’d listen to all my concerns that I would bottle up during the day. He was there when I told my daughter that they didn’t get all the cancer, as they originally had hoped. He was there to distract me and keep fun in my life when I needed it most.
I know my husband didn’t read a manual on how to be a great husband to his wife with breast cancer, but he sure could write the book. Not once did I fear he would leave or lose feelings for me. He stayed with me in the hospital and only left me for a very short time during the entire three days. He slept on a recliner. He saw me in the worst pain I had ever felt due to a hematoma and held me as they tried to figure it out. He ran with my gurney as they rolled me to the operation room for an emergency surgery, and kissed my lips before they took me in.
There are still days that I cringe looking at my body after the double mastectomy, and long for my body back to how it was. He will tell me that I’m beautiful then, now, and always. I know that I could have handled breast cancer alone, but I’m forever grateful that I didn’t have to.
If your wife or a woman in your life has breast cancer, take a cue from my husband. Don’t leave or complain, put her first and everything else will fall in line. If your husband or a man in your life was there for you, tell him thank you.
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