PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT: Men for a CauseApril 4, 2011 • By OrganicXpression.com
1. Put your relationship first
It may seem obvious, but in the flurry of attending doctor’s appointments, researching options, dealing with insurance and getting through chemo treatments, sometimes the simplest things are forgotten. Tell her you love her every day. Ten times a day is even better. These are words that never lose their strength and are even more important now when she needs to know the extent of your devotion.
2. Be Steadfast
Now is not the time to seek greener pastures. Breast cancer is curable, but the heartbreak of being abandoned in a time of need is not. If you leave her now, you will never get her back again and she will never be the same. Don’t even consider it.
Thankfully, many men don’t permanently leave, but they do find themselves escaping the realities of the situation by burying themselves in work, hobbies, friends and other responsibilities. Don’t run away. She needs you by her side literally and figuratively. You need to be accessible to her if she’s suddenly nauseous in the grocery store or if she’s terrified about her prognosis. Yes, there is a lot of weight on your shoulders now and there are things that seem they must be done, but your priority is her. Let the dishes stay in the sink for another day.
This isn’t to say that you have to pour your entire being into this cancer. You do need to take breaks sometimes, and these breaks help you to be a better caretaker. But, instead of suddenly disappearing, tell her exactly what you need, how long you’ll be gone and how she can get a hold of you. As long as you don’t have the worst timing in the world, she’ll appreciate your need for some alone time.
3. Don’t be proud
In order to be more emotionally available for your wife or partner, sometimes things like housework and playing taxi for the kids have to take second (or third) place in your life. You will likely find that friends and family will offer to help out. Always, and I mean always, say “yes.” If you can’t think of what you need immediately, tell them you’ll add their name to a list of people to call for help. And if they’re not offering, don’t be too proud to pick up the phone and start asking. Some easy things that others can do to really help out include: bringing by dinner, going grocery shopping, taking kids to and from their various activities, watching the kids during treatment, and little household chores. These things wouldn’t take more than an hour or so out of their lives, but will be invaluable to you since they will allow you to be a better husband.
4. Keep things normal
Just because breast cancer has intruded on your life, doesn’t mean it has to bring everything else to a standstill. Continue to live your life as close to normal as possible. If everything suddenly changes, she’ll feel as though the cancer has taken over more than a little spot in her breast. If you usually go to the movies on the weekend, keep going. If you enjoy taking walks, keep doing it. And make sure you have plenty of non-cancer conversations with each other and with others.
5. Laugh together
I could quote the myriad of studies that have shown the medical benefits of laughter, but those are common sense. Don’t forget to bring your sense of humor to the chemo treatments. And if you just can’t find it in yourself to make jokes, at least take a funny movie along to lighten the mood.
6. Be uplifting and honest
There will be many times over the next few months when your wife or partner will need to be pulled out of depression. You will have to show her the silver lining in situations that appear to be dark as night. When she’s losing her hair, tell her that her smooth head is stunning or buy her a beautiful scarf for her new collection. When she’s too tired to get off the couch, call in sick and declare a movie day. Optimism, like laughter, has miraculous powers.
But, in your search for the positive, don’t gloss over the negative. It is important to confront the truth head on and be honest about the realities of your situation. Just as she needs you to lift her spirits at times, she also needs you to allow her to be sad and to cry along with her. Yes, things are rough, but you’re in it together and you will come through this.
7. Stay involved
As much as you can, go to her appointments. Not only will it uplift her, but you will be fully informed and will be able to ask your own questions. At the same time, you may need to fill the role of advocate. She may be one of the strongest women you know, but under the strain of fighting cancer, a good amount of that strength is sapped. You need to make sure all of the options are considered and that her absolute best interest is at heart.
8. The nitty gritty
Among all of the emotional stuff, your grunt jobs will be growing too. You will have to take over some household duties (and do them well so that she isn’t concerned about them). Also, keep good track of all the medical records and communication from your insurance company. This is not something that she should have to worry about.
9. Sex during and after cancer
Your lover will need lots of time and compliments before she feels back to her sexual self. But, she will get there. Make sure she knows that you love her body, with or without breasts. Take your cues from her and she’ll let you know when she’s ready. One thing women need a lot of before being ready for sex is non-sexual touch. Rub her feet, scratch her back, hold her hand, and put your arm around her shoulders, and eventually she’ll want something a little more sensual.
10. Treasure her/him
Nothing demonstrates how valuable a loved one is better than the threat of losing her. Now is the time to honestly reflect on what she means to you and to study her every aspect. Have you ever examined the base of her neck or the bottom of her toes? Do you truly appreciate the way she scratches your back or how she perfectly burns your toast? Take inventory of her and spend time luxuriating in her. Tell her all of the little things you love about her. Make her feel like a precious treasure; one that you would do anything for and will always cherish. During this low time in her life, these little reminders of how you feel will perform miracles for her mood and her self-esteem.