This is me and our granddaughter, Mia, at the pool.
When I started this blog, part of my intent was to document this journey so friends and family could keep up with what’s going on with Patty and me. The other part was to document this journey in hopes that it could help others who may be in the same situation. This particular post is intended for other husbands who may have just learned that their wife or girlfriend was diagnosed with breast cancer.
16 years ago I vowed to Patty that I would love, honor and cherish her in “sickness and in health.” I meant that when I said it and I still mean it. There has not been one moment I have ever doubted that.
As the husband of a breast cancer victim you become the first line of defense for your wife. You need to respond to her every worry, concern, and fear about a disease that would become almost as much yours as it is hers.
I may not have had the suspicious lump in my breast. I didn’t physically have the surgery and all that would follow. I’m not the one going through the chemotherapy infusions, the nausea or fatigue. From the moment Patty told me “I have breast cancer”, I found my (our) life unravel in ways I could have never imagined nor predicted. In a sense, the husband’s job is a tough one, maybe not as tough as hers, but it definitely has its challenges. You not only have to make sense of cancer, the good and bad, but at the same time you have to learn how to filter information to keep your wife from falling apart. That is no small job. I’m not a psychiatrist or psychologist. I’m not a counselor. I’ve had no training in the world of breast cancer. I’ve had no medical training and I’m not a doctor or a nurse. Bottom line, I’m just a husband who loves his wife very much who is flying by the seat of his pants, and at times, struggling to do what I feel is best for my wife!
When I learned Patty had breast cancer, I wanted to learn as much about the disease as I could. I thank God for the internet. I was overwhelmed with information and I took it all in like a sponge. I will admit, there is a lot of information regarding breast cancer that is not good news, but it’s a reality. I had to sort through that information and cling onto the hopeful info while also being realistic. On the other hand, Patty also wanted to know as much as she could about the disease. As with any other woman in her shoes, her frame of mind was different from mine. She focused on the negative information which, in turn would frighten her. Actually “Frighten” isn’t the correct term. Using the word “terrorize” is more appropriate. I had to have some strict talks with Patty about researching on the internet and even threatened to put “parental controls” on the computer. (even though I’m sure she still peeks at the internet!)
This disease is something that totally consumes your life 24 hours a day! Being a man, I have that “male” mentality… “I can deal with this… Don’t worry about me, I’m a guy!” “Guys are strong… Guys eat stress for breakfast!” I think I’ve done pretty good over the past five months. I’ve been strong for Patty and tried to be as understanding and emphatic as I can. I’ve had maybe two days over this time where it was very difficult for me. Funny, but I can’t put my finger on any specific event that caused me to just want to throw my hands up, but I know I did feel that way. I feel guilty about that! As a result, the one good thing is that my relationship with God has become much stronger as he and I have had many discussions where I’ve prayed to him to help me stay strong! I know he’s in my corner! I’ve recognized that I need to take care of myself. Bottom line, I need to take care of myself to be able to properly take care of Patty! Recognizing this, I decided to join a Breast Cancer Support Group for husbands. Check this out… there are NO support groups specifically designed to help the husbands of breast cancer patients! I find that appalling.
So, guess what. I started doing some research and leg-work to see what I need to do to start one! I’m really excited about this. I may be able to do this or I may not. But if I’m able to pull this off, it’ll be something that will be really good for me and will help other husbands in my shoes! Wish me luck. I’ll keep you posted on how this goes!