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When Your Wife Is Diagnosed With Breast Cancer, Be a Man

Chris spent 10 years learning how to support his wife in her battle with breast cancer. He shares openly about his successes and failures.

To Breast Cancer Husbands

In this article, I share my suggestions for men who are the primary supporters of women with breast cancer. My thoughts and observations are based on being with my wife for ten years as she fought against this disease. Here are three very practical and proven suggestions that can quickly turn a man into an effective supporter of the woman in his life who is battling breast cancer.

Sandy and Me on a Great Day

At home with Sandy in her strong days during her fight with cancer

At home with Sandy in her strong days during her fight with cancer

My Experience as a Breast Cancer Husband

My wife, Sandy, and I were married for twenty-four years before breast cancer took her life on April 1, 2008. I want to share three lessons I have learned through this process which are especially appropriate for men whose wives or significant others have been recently diagnosed with breast cancer or are already receiving breast cancer treatment.

  • Focus on your wife.
  • Focus on life.
  • Focus on yourself.

Sandy, the Teacher

Sandy with one of her classes on the annual glacial geology field trip.

Sandy with one of her classes on the annual glacial geology field trip.

Focus on Your Wife

When she has oncologist appointments and treatments, be there. At "routine" doctor appointments, she is hearing good news and bad news and about changes in breast cancer therapy. This oncologist is one of the most important people in her life. I found that it was vital to our relationship that I get to know the doctor as well. It was one way I could support her emotionally. But attending these appointments had a practical purpose as well. Together we were able to better understand what was discussed as we talked about it later.

Attending breast cancer treatments, whether for radiation or chemotherapy, was pure emotional support. If she was having chemotherapy, I could hold her hand, read to her or simply talk to her. My wife had over one hundred radiation therapy treatments. It was helpful for me to keep in mind that during the treatment, everyone had to leave the radiation room. She was alone while the cancer cells and her body were being bombarded. It was an emotional support for her to have me waiting outside when the treatment was over.