Tuesday, August 7, 2012
Your Wife Has Breast Cancer and Your Powers have been Rendered Useless
Men are from Mars. Women are from Venus.
This concept is crucial when you consider how a man feels when his significant other has been diagnosed with breast cancer. Often we focus on the woman and how she is feeling but the husband deserves some attention too. The journey can be long and men are typically not the primary focus when their partner is faced with a breast cancer diagnosis. However, understanding their coping mechanisms and getting them the type of support they need is critical.
At Michelle's Place Breast Cancer Resource Center, we have never had success in establishing an ongoing husbands/partners support group. This is not surprising because most men do not want to sit and discuss their problems, especially with people that they do not know well. Many men say it makes them feel worse to discuss their problems and prefer to focus on actions to improve the situation or cope by participating in activities that will distract them such as exercising or spending time with friends.
It seems to be the feeling of powerlessness that is the hardest for men. Many men cope by taking control of a challenging situation and focusing on a plan of action. It is truly a struggle to stand by and watch as their wife endures painful treatments and then have to deal with unknowns. All the while, their lives are turned upside down with changes in daily work life and household responsibilities. Add to this worries about children and changes in their relationships with their wives. Since most men like to fix problems, it is not surprising they rate their spouses cancer diagnosis as the worst thing that can ever happen to them - worse even than being diagnosed with cancer themselves.
If you know a man that is in this situation, I want to introduce you to a man that I admire and I only know him through his book. Mike Stalter has written a book called Still Have Faith. He wrote this book about about his experience with his wife's 17½-year battle with breast cancer. I admire Mike because he took the time to write this book with honesty. He does not romanticize the situation and turn it into a "made for tv" movie. He is candid...he readily admits he feels he could have done more. I am not going to spoil it for you though. I do recommend this book and I am donating 2 copies to our Michelle's Place library in hopes that it will help spouses/partners of our clients.
You can purchase the book on Mike's website at www.stillhavefaith.com or you can purchase the Kindle edition on Amazon. You can find him on Facebook too.