Your wife has
just been diagnosed with breast cancer.
Welcome to one
of the hardest experiences you and your wife will ever
go through. Nothing can truly prepare you for this. But,
if you and your wife face this with the right attitude,
it can become (as incredible as this may sound) one of
the most rewarding experiences you will ever share.
When your spouse
is diagnosed with breast cancer, your life is going to
change. Some husbands choose to gloss over their wifeís
problem. Other husbands jump right in and take a very
active part in the decision-making and healing
processes. Finally, there are the husbands who are a
combination of both. They may leave the decision about
the treatment up to the wives, but they are there for
When I first
heard the news that my wife had cancer, it was if I
could not inhale-only exhale. The news was devastating
beyond comprehension. The first question that crossed my
mind was would I still have my best friend in a year or
would she become another depressing statistic? After a
few hours, I was able to snap back to reality and begin
to help my wife face her fears.
Because of the
type of cancer and the size of the mass, she was
scheduled for a modified radical mastectomy in two days.
We did not have time to get a second opinion, but we
were able to ask some other oncologists questions about
what was going on and felt somewhat comfortable with our
However, if you and your wife do
not feel comfortable for any reason with a doctorís
diagnosis or prescribed treatment, definitely seek
another opinion and ask as many questions as you deem
necessary. There is no such thing as a stupid question
when it comes to the health of our loved one.
surgery is over and the healing begins, you may get more
overwhelmed than you ever could have imagined. You will
need to be there to help your wife do things that she
can no longer do alone. Things that were so simple for
If you have the
joy of having children, as we do, the work that you do
never seems to end. Combine this with still having to go
to your regular job, and you will soon find that there
is no time in the day for you. When this cycle continues
for an extended period of time, you can reach the edge
of an emotional cliff. You may suffer emotional
exhaustion, or as the professionals call it, caregiver
What seems to make things worse is
that people are constantly asking in-depth questions
about how your wife is doing, but few, if any, about how
you are doing, when people did ask me how I was doing, I
almost felt selfish or as if I was complaining when I
told the truth.
You should not
feel selfish. When people ask how you are doing, be
honest. Being honest helps to cleanse the emotions that
are built up inside.
could be fear, anger, resentment, sadness or anything.
Each person deals with this situation in a different
manner. Letting someone else know how you feel will give
them insight as to why you are acting the way you are.
Ignoring your emotions will only cause problems. Let
them out and deal with them; This will not make you less
of a man. Instead, it will make you more of a stable
In the beginning, you may find that
you sacrifice most of yourself in order to establish a
caregiving routine, but after the routine is set, try to
take some time for yourself. Do not feel selfish for
doing this. It is necessary to keep your sanity while in
the midst of things over which you have no control.
Try to do
something for yourself every day. It does not need to be
planned, expensive or lengthy. Take an extra 10 minutes
getting to work in the morning and listen to your
favorite tape or take the scenic way home. If friends,
neighbors or family are helping, take time to treat
yourself to something you have not done in a long time.
Whatever it is, do something just for you.
burnout is not your wifeís fault or anyoneís. It is only
one of the side effects of healing. Realize that you are
a very important part of the healing process, both
physically and emotionally. If you are burnt-out or
stressed-out, you canít create a good healing
to get through the ordeal as quickly and safely as
possible. Recognizing in advance that there is a
possibility for added stress and having an idea of how
to deal with it can help to improve the healing
environment. You will have time to do things with your
wife after the healing is done. In the meantime, donít
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