You can spend a lifetime or just a few days with the woman you love and no matter the age if that love is sincere anything that happens to that woman affects you. Nothing I can think of can affect you as much as when you discover that the love of your life has a critical illness. What I hope to do is to help you the husband or lover get through this and keep a positive attitude that will in turn help the woman you love.
I’m not a doctor, or a clergyman, I am just an ordinary working person. I am however the proud husband of a beautiful lady who just had a mastectomy because of cancer.
Cancer, the mere sound of the word is terrifying. For many of us it is a word that means suffering and death. A word you hope will never be used to describe the problem with someone you love. Cancer is there hiding, waiting to pounce, waiting to destroy or be destroyed. It will destroy if given a chance but it can also be destroyed if we over come our fear of it and attack it not only with medical means but with a thing cancer cannot survive, a true belief in God and in ourselves. It doesn’t matter that we ourselves are not the one with the disease, what matters is that we give our total support to that special person that does. I hope I can help you do this.
When my wife first noticed a lump in her left breast we got scared, it couldn’t be cancer we were sure of that, it must be only some swollen glands or maybe a cyst. We found the lump just before Mothers Day and finally got up the courage to go to the doctor on the 18th of May. Before going we prayed and almost had ourselves convinced that the lump was getting smaller. We also read as many articles as we could get our hand on in the hopes of confirming the problem as a minor one. Going to the doctor was however the only sure way of finding out. Once at the doctors office we watched every expression on his face hoping to see a look that tells us that everything is OK. The look doesn’t come instead there is a look of concern a look that tells you that what you dread may be the answer. “If I send you for a mammogram this afternoon can you go?” With your heart down around shoe top level you manage to answer yes. The doctor leaves the room to call the hospital and you look at each other, there is still a chance it is not cancer, but the odds are getting smaller. This is the start of what could be the worst time of your life. But believe me, as bad as thing look at the time your faith will give you a strength and understanding that will last for a lifetime, both yours and hers.
Join me as I explain the feeling I had and the feeling others have had in the same situation. Don’t be afraid to feel them. Don’t feel you are alone, don’t be afraid to cry, it’s not the sign of a sissy, it’s the expression of hurt, anger and fear. My dear friend if you think you can make things better by ignoring your feelings you are wrong.
One of the first things you feel is helplessness. You are not accustomed to that feeling. The woman you love is now out of your ability to help. What can you do now?? You can’t give her a pill, put on a bandaid or make the problem go away. It’s true there really isn’t anything you can do except to be there. I want to tell you that being there is more important than pills or Band-Aids. Being there is the best medicine you can give at this time, and it grows more important in the days to come. Yes you will feel helpless, I know I did and in many ways I still do. That’s ok, make good use of this feeling and you will find that you will compensate for it by being there, by holding, by hugging and by crying together. Very important at this time is to express to each other your feelings, it helps for you to understand what she is thinking and she wants to know what you are thinking. Don’t be afraid because if you love each other expressing your feelings will only make things easier as you go through the days to come.
Feeling angry is also a very strong emotion, I was angry at just about everyone including my wife. I was angry at my wife for being sick because I felt by her getting sick she was robbing me of my ability to care for her. She wasn’t the one to get sick, that was my responsibility. Sounds stupid?? It is, but it runs in your thoughts just the same. I was angry at God, why didn’t He go after the ones that deserve this, why pick on my wife and besides if He was mad at me why hurt her? This anger came from my feeling of helplessness more than from anything else. The feeling that maybe that if I get God mad at me He would take her sickness away from her and give it to me where I could deal with it first hand. You start to react to this feeling that you don’t need Him. You will find out in the days to come that this anger has made your faith even stronger. God is most likely going to become your best friend, you can get mad, you can yell and in the dark hours when you are all alone you can talk to Him and not be afraid to say what you feel, the answers may not be the ones you want, but He answers and that you can be sure of. I must say that I am not trying to push God down your throat but it sure helps to talk.
The answers are in, there is no question that there is cancer. The choice is to be made, do you consider a lumpectomy or mastectomy. This is a decision that should be talked over after you know all the facts. Don’t try to decide this until you have talked to your doctor. Find out what your chances are with each choice and make the choice together, it will help both you and your loved one feel better. Choosing to have a mastectomy was something we thought about before we even talked to the surgeon. Once given the options we talked about them as well. Remember cancer is new to you both, but your doctor has this to deal with constantly so get the facts and if possible talk to someone who had both types of treatment. Our choice was made easier when our surgeon said that if you were my wife he would remove the breast. Please remember to talk about it, don’t just say what ever you want is fine with me. Your loved one has enough to worry about without the burden of making this choice by herself. Also be sure that when you help her decide you are prepared to support that decision.
You’re not alone in wondering how you will react to having your wife’s breast or breasts removed, I did, you will, and most of all so will she. Natural yes, frightening yes, after all this is a major operation and something is being removed. I liked my wife’s breasts, but they were just a part of her not all of her. Her breasts were not what made me love her, I love her for what she is. I feel that there is much more to a person that makes us love them that goes well beyond their physical appearance. Besides if left untreated the ultimate results would be much suffering and most probably death.
Television has done more to program us in the way we should look, the way we should act, and in the way we should think. I believe that more than anything else it has programmed us to stop thinking for ourselves. What you see is a total media hype on what we are to look like, act like, what we should eat, drink, and after seeing this for a long period of time we give up being individuals and conform. I’ve noticed more commercials and programs that portray the female anatomy as being one with large breasts and we begin to associate this trait to all women. Men if suddenly they started focusing on the size of our penises, how would we feel about it? Unless we learn to love a person for what that person is we had best give up on the idea. If your television was taken away would your life be that bad? Would you survive? In many cases I think not. Don’t judge your reaction to your wife’s illness by what you see on TV. She deserves better. Base your reaction on your love for her, face her problems with her, talk to her, shut off the damn television and visit with each other. You will find that there is a very precious person living in your wife’s body, and also that the person in your body is precious also.
You are going to be afraid to talk to her, mostly because you won’t want to hurt her. I felt that way, but I made myself do it, and the more we talked, the easier it got. Give her the outlet to express her fears and give yourself the same outlet. After all who better to discuss your fears with than the person you love. If what you might say hurts, work on it she will understand. If what she says hurts work on that as well, remember there is a lot of anger on both sides and when it comes to the surface it can be dealt with, if left inside it will just fester. My love and I talk more now than we ever had and its great. Talk to friends that you can confide in, it helps, and if they are true friends they will understand. What I want you to understand is that you should not keep your feelings bottled up inside you, get them out and work on them. Your not alone there are many of us out there and I fear there will be many more to come.
What about sex with your loved one?? Will it be safe? Will it be the same for her? Will it be be the same for you? As far as if it will be safe, don’t hesitate to ask your doctor. If the doctor says its ok , ask your loved one. If she says its ok, then by all means do things the same way as before. Remember the woman you love is still there and she needs to feel that inspite of what is happening you still want her. Don’t be afraid of looking at her, in fact make a point of helping her change her dressing. Help her in ways that show her that you are fully aware of how she looks and to you she is still beautiful. I’ll tell you that by doing this you will not only be helping her, you will be helping yourself. You will be over coming your fears, your hurt and you will without even realizing it find that your love has grown stronger. Take time to adjust, don’t think it will happen over night, it won’t. Don’t lie to yourself, you both need time to adjust. Use the period of adjusting to talk to each other, to ask questions, to show your feelings. What you will find is that when you both feel comfortable with each other sex will be as good if not better.
You are going to worry about her, and try to protect her from as many things as you can. You will find you get angry at people who are just trying to be nice. I realize people can be real idiots sometimes but for the most part they are truly trying to help, let them. Having friends that care is important. If they dwell on the subject too much however tell them to stop as soon as the opportunity avails itself, they will understand.
If you have children be honest with them, its their mother and they have a right to know and share with the two of you. Families can combine all their strengths and together they can conquer many problems. I have not used the word terminal because I believe that although the disease is very serious there is no room for terminal. There is only room for getting well, for life, and underlying everything there is a lot or room for love.
You will think to yourself what will I do if she dies. I did, but that passed, now I think about all the things we are going to do together. I am positive in her recovery, I am positive in knowing how strong the medicine of my love can be. I know there will be more tears, more worries, more times of anger. I also know that we will get over them. I think that her illness has proved beyond any doubt that God is with us, and that He has given us the strength to get through. I also know that I appreciate her more and love her more because the woman I love loves me.
These are times you will experience emotions you never had before. If they get the best of you get help from someone qualified to help. Don’t be ashamed to ask for help, you have a lifetime to spend together, make the best of it.