Friday, September 25, 2015

Help for the Helpers?

                            When you reach the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on.
                                                                                            ~ Thomas Jefferson

I visited with an old friend this week and much reminiscing and catching up was shared.  At this stage in our lives, we spent some time on health issues. He raised an interesting point, one that I sadly admit I had not considered. He spoke about searching for a respectful, compassionate oncologist when his wife was diagnosed with breast cancer. He shared that one doctor dismissed him after being introduced, without even a greeting, and summarily banished him to a seat in the corner, behind her computer screen which effectively blocked the view of his wife.  He felt disenfranchised and hurt.  He said, “there is no support for the men in this equation when your partner has cancer.”

I caught my breath because he is right.  There are a lot of expectations on the male partner when a woman has a diagnosis of cancer, particularly when it is one that seems to have sexual connotations. Women struggle with how breast cancer treatment will affect their body image as well as their desirability and need the support of their lovers and husbands to help them through. Conversely, the partner of a man with prostrate cancer, in the midst of stepping up and caring for him, might also be dealing with fears and worries about losing an integral part of their relationship as a result.

What is the impact on these supportive partners? Who is considering and helping them? If you are or have been in that position, what do you need?  Please comment and share!

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