Male Caregiver Advice from Men Against Breast Cancer
In advance of the Livestrong Presidential Cancer Forum on August 27 and 28, Marc Heyison, President and Co-Founder of Men Against Breast Cancer, offers his thoughts on what any Presidential candidate should know about breast cancer.
1) Breast Cancer is a Family's Battle
People need to view breast cancer as a family issue that devastates the entire family. My mom, a breast cancer survivor named Gloria, was and is the rock and foundation of our family. When the person you lean on the most is suddenly facing a battle, it instantaneously becomes the family's battle as well. The fear and hopelessness you feel is indescribable with the foremost thought being is she going to die? Of course, with respect to treatment options the final choice is always the patient's. If you take my mom out of our family pictures there is no family, so don't tell me breast cancer is not a family issue.
2) Men Can Be Great Breast Cancer Caregivers
Men want to help and support the women they love, as they face breast cancer. Obviously, the focus is on, and should be on, the breast cancer patient. But, please do not forget us guys. We can be great cancer caregivers who rise to the occasion, demonstrating love and commitment to our families. Yes, there are some horrible caregivers out there who demonstrate cowardice in the face of cancer, but by far, we find that men are stepping up to the plate as breast cancer partners.
Give us more to do! If we need help, show us how to do it because we can handle the responsibility of caring for the women in our lives.
3) We Need and Want to Know How to Be Better Caregivers
Offer more educational programs for male cancer caregivers - and all caregivers for that matter. We all know the benefits of knowledge. Remember that our goal is to improve the quality of life of the breast cancer patient, and a major component in that mix is support. By supporting the male caregiver, we are ultimately supporting the patient.
4) Define Survivor: The Cancer Community Needs to Know More about Life "After" Cancer
Let us know what we can do after breast cancer treatment, in terms of compliance and adherence. Make sure we know the proactive role we can play to make sure our loved one continues to take medication for as long as it is prescribed and takes all of her tests when they need to taken. This can help prevent a breast cancer recurrence or at the very least hopefully lead to early detection if there is a recurrence.
5) Support Our Call to Arms for Men Against Breast Cancer
The call to arms is for all men to be there for the women they love. Even if there is no breast cancer in the family that does not mean you can sit on the sideline. You can make sure when it is age and/or medically appropriate that your loved gets her mammogram, yearly clinical breast exam, and does a monthly breast exam. In addition to eating right and exercising these are all steps all men can play. I have read that 75 to 85 percent of all breast cancers have no family history...and this was the case with my family.
The primary focus is and should be on research and one day finding a cure. But until that day, lets not forget the vital role that men can play in making sure more women are alive to reap the benefits of the breakthroughs we are on the cusp of.
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