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All TopicsForum: For Caregivers, Family, Friends and Supporters → Topic: Husbands of Women with Breast Cancer

Topic: Husbands of Women with Breast Cancer

Forum: For Caregivers, Family, Friends and Supporters — Here is a place to share your struggles on supporting and caring for a person you love, whether just diagnosed, or in end stage. It is never easy, but you are not alone.

Posted on: Sep 8, 2008 01:49AM

Route53 wrote:

Well we are 2 days away from taking my wife to surgery and after 5 weeks of waiting, I've run through the emottions.  It has been an exahusting experience and I've learned so much about this disease.  It has totally consumed me.

Many men wonder what to do when their wife gets diagnosed:  I've taken on the role of lead information researcher, publicist, secretary, phone operator and body guard for my wife the last several weeks.  I've been trying to guard her from too much information, an overwhelming number of the "how are you" and "be strong" emails (she loves them but just can't stand to cry once more from the outpouring of support she is getting from friends and family).

I've gone to almost every appointment since my wife suspected she had cancer and I wouldn't have done it differently.  I know many situations are different.  I have gone from happy, to sad, to angry, to calm, to reflective and bak to happy again through many cycles since this started.

 Men don't normally feel easy talking about this subject ( I sure don't want to sit around in a circle with other husbands of survivors), so I do want to say that if you would like to ask a question to another husband, please do. feel free to reply to this post if you do.  It is important to be informed about your wife's cancer and help her when she needs it.  Communication is so important at this time.    I hate to say it, but cancer has corrected many flaws in the communication that I have had with my wife.

Route53

http://route53.wordpress.com

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Posts 1 - 17 (17 total)

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Sep 8, 2008 02:10AM CAZ wrote:

Hello again Route,

As a wife, I would say the most beautiful thing my husband did after my diagnosis was not freak out.  He is an engineer and could appreciate the statistics of my decision to have a prophylactic bilateral mastectomy.  I was, however, concerned due to his squeamishness.  He's been a trooper, but I won't let him see the outcome until all is said and done.  I feel guilty that my breasts have hijacked the year for us both. The look in my spandex camisole is hot now that the fills are done, but there are more surgeries and more scars to come.  Let your wife know that is is all about growing old with her.  Strength to you both.

Carol(AZ)

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Sep 9, 2008 01:35AM Route53 wrote:

Thanks Carol,

 Despite the fact that both me and my wife are children of physicians, I am very squeamish.  Yep, your husband sounds like a trooper.

Route 53 http://route53.wordpress.com; Bilateral total skin sparing mastectomy w/ reconstruction

Dx 7/26/2008, IDC, 1cm, Stage I, Grade 2, 0/2 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Apr 6, 2009 04:09PM kittyparker wrote:

Very useful files search engine. megaupload-download.com is a search engine designed to search files in various file sharing and uploading sites.

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Apr 28, 2009 01:48AM, edited Apr 28, 2009 02:13AM by clayton1936

Since my husband gets angry when I try to talk to him about his lack of support for me,  perhaps I could get some advice from someone else's husband.    From the beginning, he has chosen to ignore the fact that I have breast cancer.     My doctor was very upset with him because he wasn't with me when I learned about the results of my biopsy.   He insisted that my husband be there when we discussed the details of my surgery, so my husband came with me to that appointment.    When the doctor asked him if he had any questions, he replied: "How soon can she golf?"     The only time I golf is when we go on vacation, and we had our next trip planned.   He took me to the hospital for my mastectomy and stayed during the surgery, but he left soon after it was over.   When he came to pick me up in the morning, he didn't even ask how I felt, etc.; actually, he didn't even open the car door for me.    He continued to ignore me when we got home, and I spent much of my time alone.     I recovered very quickly, and made no demands on him.    Two weeks after my surgery, I had a shower for my grandaughter; and we danced at her wedding two months later.   Our lives went on as usual.      I have continued to have yearly mammograms, and never once has he asked me about the results.    His lack of concern has hurt me deeply, and, as I have said, he simply won't talk about it.   Instead of the reassurance I need, he becomes angry and leaves me alone.    I don't see how he could possibly love me and treat me this way, but I'm open to any suggestions someone out there might have.   This behavior is not unusual for him, however; he reacted basically the same way during two other surgeries and hospital stays.   Thanks for listening; I feel better already. :)

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May 5, 2009 12:13PM simojt_marjun wrote:

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May 15, 2009 01:47PM barbinar wrote:

clayton, my husband was exactly the same way.  The only times he was there for me was when I DEMANDED that he be there, and then it was with gritted teeth on his part. (He is now my ex, by the way, but that was his choice too.)

So I learned to get the help and support I needed from my women friends. Which was better all around because I knew they really CARED and were not just being nice because they 'had to be'.  It still hurt that my life partner was so unavaliable, but I made up my mind that I was in the fight of my life and I was going to win for my kid's sake.

I was dx at age 38 and will be 61 next month.  It's amazing what we, the 'weaker sex' (yah right) can do when we have to.  

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May 19, 2009 03:30PM petelzmom wrote:

Clayton,

My husband acted similar to yours - he would pick a fight with me on my way to chemo (he would drop me off & pick me up). He finally told me he wanted me to be mad and fight during my treatment. I guess he was afraid I would fall apart? He should have known better, we've been through this cancer crap with several family members.

I was very hurt and upset but realized he couldn't talk about any of this with me. he was there for the kids and helped a little at home. Not the hand holding that I wanted and needed. I also got that support from a group of women I met through the cancer center. We have been friends for the last 2 years. 

i swore that I would never forgive him. time passes and it's not a matter of forgiveness as much as it is knowing who you can count on for what kind of support.

Take care and don't dwell on it, the greatest revenge is to live your life as fully as you can, doing what YOU want!

Dx 11/5/2006, ILC, 6cm+, Stage IIIc, Grade 3, 3/15 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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May 23, 2009 03:40PM Route53 wrote:

Clayton,

Since I started this thread many months ago I had done much research.  I have accumulated much research and many links for husbands.  There are really good resources and articles.  There is also a great support group of husbands out there too.

You can go to my blog at http://route53.wordpress.com and on the right column there are links to breast cancer resources for husbands.  Print them out and share them with your spouse.  Let him read them on his own.

In many ways, I think the lashing out at least shows that he cares.  He just doesn't know how to express his feeling productively.  I personally wanted my wife to better as soon as possible.  I wanted her to share that 50/50 household relationship and parenting duties and couldn't wait for her to be her old self.  Fortunately having been to all those doctor's appointments with my wife, I was able to help her get through all of her questions, but she needed the support group as well that petelzmom said was important. 

I also agree with Petzelmom to just move on now (hopefully not too vengefully).  Life is stressful enough as it is and cancer is a big pain for all of us, but let's not let it divide our families too.

Route 53 http://route53.wordpress.com; Bilateral total skin sparing mastectomy w/ reconstruction

Dx 7/26/2008, IDC, 1cm, Stage I, Grade 2, 0/2 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Jun 10, 2009 02:37AM o2bhealthyhusbum wrote:

I am ashamed to say that I have been lacking in the area of Researcher.  I will be with my wife EVERY STEP of the way!  I made a vow to her 11 years ago before God that I would be there for her "In sickness and in health", so who am I to let her go this alone.  I will not judge anybody here, but for me I stand with my wife.  So, two weeks from today my wife will have a bilateral mastectomy and immediate reconstruction done (in stages).  That day will be the most nervous day of my life without a doubt.  Every day after will be a test for me to show her how much I really love her by doing ANYTHING and EVERYTHING I need to do so she does not need to.  Any, and I mean ANY advise would be helpful.  What things I need to look out for such as side effects, abnormal swelling at the surgery site. Soo much to keep track of and I am afraid I am going to fail her and let her down.

Martin

Dx 5/15/2009, IDC, <1cm, Grade 3, ER+/PR-, HER2+
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Jun 11, 2009 06:48PM cjbonz wrote:

Well first I have to say I can't believe the way some of the Husbands have acted.  I have been Married to my wife for almost 26 years and I couldn't imagine life without her.  We found out she had Breast Cancer in March 2009, she had a single Mastectomy in May 2009 and we just got back from her first Oncolgy appointment today.  I have been with her every step of the way, and will be there with her until the end.  She was a Stage IIB and only 2 out of 24 lymphnodes were affected.  I saw my Sister die at the age of 32 from Breast Cancer and her Husband was not there for her my Mother spent more time with her than her husband did.  I haven't done too much research but would love to hear from anybody who can point me to any info I can read.  I have been really scared and have cried with my wife numerous times.  I am positive things will be just fine, she went back to work 2 weeks after surgery and can't wait for chemo to be over.  Then she will have reconstruction in the fall.  Both of us have a positive outlook on life and have done so for quite sometime since I am a 100% Disabled Navy Veteran, and have gone thru my own major medical problems and we have made it thru.

Thanks it always makes me feel better to connect with others.

ETC/SS Carl Bonenfant

USN Navy Ret.  100% Perm. & Total Disabled

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Jun 13, 2009 02:11PM o2bhealthyhusbum wrote:

10 days and counting until my wife's surgery.  I'm having feelings of anxiety, not for the fact that it will be a complete success, but more of her feelings.  I'm spending the weekend scrubbing the floors, shower, counters, laundry, oh crap just going to deep clean the entire house.  I want her to not have to do that, so I am just going to kick myself in the ass if I procrastinate.  She has deserved the right to not have to do anything.  I hope I am doing enough for her.  Make sure her hospital bag is packed with everything she will need, along with the prescription drugs and the schedule of when she needs to take them.

Martin

Dx 5/15/2009, IDC, <1cm, Grade 3, ER+/PR-, HER2+
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Jun 17, 2009 08:07AM rhy wrote:

My wife is similar to cjbonz in that she had her mastectomy in late April and her first round of chemo on 11 June, but she had 17 of 18 lymph nodes positive.  I found the book by Marc Silver to be very useful (Breast Cancer Husband).  I wish I had read it earlier, but it really helped me to read it.

And CJBONZ, I too am a retired submariner, and had great rewspect for the chiefs on the subs I was on (I was a nuc officer).  I couldn't have survived without them.

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Jun 17, 2009 03:33PM petelzmom wrote:

Martin,

My hat is off to you. God bless you for being so good to your wife.

Don't forget to take care of yourself - you don't need to be getting sick.

keep the faith!

Dx 11/5/2006, ILC, 6cm+, Stage IIIc, Grade 3, 3/15 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Jun 18, 2009 05:51PM Route53 wrote:

Great Job Martin,

Take care of yourself physically.  Don't let all that internal strife and nervous energy wear you down.

We will be thinking of you.

Erik (Route53)

http://route53.wordpress.com

Route 53 http://route53.wordpress.com; Bilateral total skin sparing mastectomy w/ reconstruction

Dx 7/26/2008, IDC, 1cm, Stage I, Grade 2, 0/2 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Jun 18, 2009 06:30PM Route53 wrote:

Carl,

 I have a list of resources on the right hand nav. bar of my blog to Marc Silver's article, book and other interesting husband resources.

  Additionally I read this article in my local newspaper. Although it has been a year for me and it has been a couple months for you, I thought the "public" struggle of co-survivorship that Phil Mickelson is going through is something I could not imagine.  If he wins this tournament, his mental fortitude will be something that people will talk about for years.

 http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2009/06/18/SPDP189376.DTL

 Erik (Route53)

http://route53.wordpress.com

Route 53 http://route53.wordpress.com; Bilateral total skin sparing mastectomy w/ reconstruction

Dx 7/26/2008, IDC, 1cm, Stage I, Grade 2, 0/2 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Jul 7, 2009 11:56AM, edited Jul 7, 2009 12:12PM by decaffdave

well it is over 3 years now.. my wife is still fighting ... most the time on some chemo or another..

to the gals reading .. it is easy for a guy to displace the anger over life changeing and not being able to do a dam thing about it we are mainly a fix it nature and this we can not fix so we are angry ... i did this some my self while she was not looking as sick as she was... then i relised oh gee it is about her not me and i got over that... keep in mind some times we jest dont see things the same way... not that we dont care (some times we dont as in this or that ,,, )  but real many times  we wont understand ... but as long as we are there- we are trying..

guys it is about her, yes your life is never going to be the same but in its changes it can be better richer and it wont be easy you have to look and work for it and it will not ever be as it was but again there are things that can be better. if you will let your self and some small wants (could be some large ones also)  not be as important to your self as you were

i setteled a lot out and now i can not enjoy enught the hugs and jest holding her ..

to the new guys starting this ... it is not easy for us but keep in mind that it is ever so much harder on them, they are the ones sick and tired ... they are the ones whos looks are forever changed and despite reconstroction it is not the same to them... it will be hard to deal with the changeing emoations it is like the changes they went through haveing your kids... and as older guys will find out ,,, menpause also ...these emotionl changes will settel down !!! jest keep in mind it is not you many times that she is up set over... and most times the ladys are wired to talk it out ..yes it is tireing to hear some of it over and over but you will hear things that are new and important..some times  not all of our gals are the same .... mine is diffrent then yours but they all want to be able to feel you will be there...

guys they will some times say to you things they will not say to otheres and it can hurt ... they are holding to that you said better and worse... many times it will not be some thing you said but it can easly become that ,,,, dont fall in to fighting them ... fall back to catch them... they are hurt and hurting and most times it is not over you to start.. so dont say things to let them displace it to you or some thing you did as they will focus on that negtave  ... yes some times you guys will jest have to say to your selfs that it is the cancer and chemicals not her and jest let it go ... and dont bring it up ... ever...the closest thing i can tell you is that it is like argeuing with some one that is intoxicated ... they are not them selves at all and most times when they say some thing that hurts they dont mean what they say  ... they are hurting both ways and it is nature to fight back in any way they can ... jest keep in mind they are not what they used to be ...

YOU should never ever act like they dont have cancer during the treatment ... can you act like you dont have an arm?  you should act with them as that it is not the end of the world and you can love them jest like before the cancer and that should be a starting point .. NO it will not be easy,,,and some times you will have to be firm and strong enught for the two of you...jest think of as you are young and in new enviroment ... they are some place were they most likely will die too soon ,,,, you can be the steady object for them to hold to .... or not.... you will have to decide...

yes it willl not be easy... you could be watching them wast away and know you will never have some one love and need you as they do now .. at this time as you will be the one they need.. 

yep i do not like the lack of sex but i love to hold her  as i never did before and that is enught...you will have to work through that .. my love lost her desire for sex and so far i can live with that.. you will have to come to terms with that but above all do not blame her.. it is not her falt ...

 find a friend that will lissen to your gripes and things that piss you off ... but that will not gide you to judgement either way,,, that is your path to chouse

your love may be unfriendly and mean in some ways.. you shuld not let her do so ... jest walk around the corner were you are close and can be there if needed but not in her sight when she is blameing the rest of the world includeing you for what is wrong.. again fall back to catch her .. pushing on the fight is never good ... jest back off and defend if need be...

when others see her sick they will all want to say you need to do this and that .. god knows i get tired of advice from thoes not here doing the job.. but as long as they are offering advice and not telling you that YOU HAVE to do this or that ... again jest let it go as they mostly jest want to help with out haveing to sacrifice.. if you have one of her friends or rleative thaseems freaky and says you should do things you have already tryed ...THEN record things!! make your self a log of food meds  and such as freaky people can cause you trouble and some freaks are watching out for their inhearantce.. and if there is any issues you have a record ... yes there are thoes that seem to come around when there is money or some thing they feel they should get....

when times come you dont know how long you may want to bring up what they want done after wards..you dont have to agree and may not follow through but at least you will have an idea of things and wright them down also... she should make out a will ... dont push on these things she may want to bring them up and you basicly lissen and nod your head .. but if she dont then quitly going there in conversation is some thing you should do...

well i have typed long enugh and previewed to many times ... most of this was to focus what i am feeling ...as i did not have a teacher .,.,i hope this helps some one ....

TTFN dave

edit= in case you want to talk feel free to email me via forum

this helped me some times you jest gota get it out..

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Jul 12, 2009 06:54PM CaptainSquared wrote:

My wife was just diagnosed over a month ago (Dx below) and so far, the best thing I have found to be helpful is to NOT fix everything that brings my wife some degree of stress.  As someone said earlier in this post, I am her most fervent and eager bodyguard but I've discovered that she can use some distractions in her life now more than ever!  Not the type of distractions that make you lose sleep though.  Rather, something like asking her to do a favor or run an errand for me that I know is not going to be a struggle for her and at least occupy her mind for a while.  I love to dote on my wife and take care of her every need but I found early that this just gave her too much time for reflection and time to wallow in her fears.

She will be the first to tell anyone that I am usually a 'fixer' type and that this goes against my grain.  I have also shared my 'secret' with her and she has been appreciative - mostly because I seem to have found a balance between (1) taking care of my wife's needs and (2) not making her feel uncapable or incompetent. 

Another thing I have done from day 1 is that I have adopted a 'we' approach to surgery and treatment.  At the same time, I understand that although we are on this path together, she is really the only one in this race. I know that she is more than capable of attending her appointments alone, but there is NO chance I'm going to miss a single one, as long as she will allow me. 

Oh yeah, and I think I am as prepared as I can be for the inevitable time when the rules change and the old tricks no longer work.  Also, much like the widely varying diagnoses found her, the things that work for my wife and I may not work well for you and yours.

Stay positive and stay well!

Dx 6/2/2009, IDC, 2cm, Grade 3, 0/2 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-