Resources for Men Caring for Loved Ones with Breast Cancer
You’ve got breast cancer – but you’re not the only one suffering.
Your friends are uncomfortable, trying to figure out how to help without being overly intrusive. Your colleagues at work seem unable to look you in the eye; you’ve drawn the short straw, and suddenly you’re a marked woman.
But it’s your family that feels the real impact: the center of their world is sick, and she might die. Panic is followed by grief, then by the very human desire to take action; to fix things.
And no one is more anxious to “fix” your cancer than your husband, boyfriend, or other male partner. It’s a guy thing; never mind talking about it, let’s just fix it and move on.
The problem is, cancer isn’t readily fixable. It’s treatable; and in some cases, it’s curable. But there’s really not a thing anyone in your family can do to make your cancer go away. You and your medical team are struggling side by side on this marathon, with your family providing rest breaks, water stops, and lots of supportive cheering.
And for your parents and kids, that’s probably enough. But not for your husband. He feels responsible for you. He wants to make you better, but he can’t. And that’s a very uncomfortable position for a man.
What’s a woman to do?
Since you’re reading this, you’re obviously comfortable online. So even if he isn’t, you can help your partner cope with cancer by feeding him the information he needs. From informational sites to interactive forums to downloadable books, the following resources are designed by men, for men, to help men through their breast cancer caregiver journey.
MyBreastCancerNetwork.com: We have a great section for men right here on this site. Check out Breast Cancer Partners and Husbands, where you’ll find posts by some of our regular male contributors; a forum where men can connect with one another for advice and support; and advice for you about what your partner might be feeling, and how you can help.
Men Against Breast Cancer™ - Caring About the Women We Love: Marc Heyison, a long-time blogger on MyBreastCancerNetwork.com, is president and co-founder of this national non-profit. Their mission is “to provide targeted support services to educate and empower men to be effective caregivers when breast cancer strikes a female loved one; as well as target and mobilize men to be active participants in the fight to eradicate breast cancer as a life-threatening disease.”
MABC’s Web site is a wealth of information, including basic breast cancer FAQS, links to related sites, lists of things to do, useful articles, and other “actionable” info bytes. Written and organized in a straightforward fashion, this is clearly a site by guys, for guys.
MABC’s advice- and information-packed book, For the Women We Love: A Breast Cancer Battle Plan and Caregivers Action Guide for Men, is a “no-nonsense navigation and survival guide for men who are committed to being their for the women they love.” Termed a “highly structured road map,” it’s available as a free downloadable PDF.
The group’s Find a Friend service links men seeking support, with men in the same geographical area offering help. Does your significant other need a “cancer buddy” just as much as you do? Here’s a place to start.
Stand By Her: Is your guy into forums and message boards? StandByHer.org is a great place to visit. Ask questions, join discussions, and connect around topics ranging from diagnosis, chemo & radiation, and surgery, to next steps, five years later, and emotions & sex.
The site is based on the book Stand By Her, by John W. Anderson, selected by The Wall Street Journal as one of the top health books of 2009. The book offers “strategies and support on the countless minefields men face, every day, as husbands, sons, brothers, fathers, friends and coworkers of breast cancer patients.” Interested? Read a review.
Breast Cancer Support, a 13-year “meeting place for survivors,” offers a Caregivers & Men’s Support Board where men are invited to ask questions and join discussions around member-generated topics. The board also includes questions from survivors to men – it’s a good place for a woman to get advice about her significant other, from a male point of view.
Finally, check out Man to Man, a free downloadable book by Canadian journalist Carl Morgan. It’s an engaging read by this former editor of the Windsor (Ontario) Star newspaper, who went through breast cancer with his wife, Gloria. Sadly, both Carl and Gloria died of cancer in 2008; but this book is a vibrant testament to their love for one another, and their strength dealing with cancer.
Thankfully, male breast cancer is very rare. For more information about men with breast cancer, check out these two posts:
Men Get Breast Cancer, Too
For the Men in Your Life