It’s difficult for most men to express what they feel when the breast cancer befalls a woman as a disaster. But their involuntary silence undermines the relationships in a couple. The experts’ advice: it’s necessary to talk openly about your feelings in order to help a woman.
Vitaly, 35 years old: “We began to appreciate each other more”
“The cancer cells were found” – Helen saw these words when she took the analysis results… It was a shock for both of us. Helen was 27 years old, I was 29, we knew nothing about breast cancer, we needed more information and I actively began to look for it. When your beloved one is sick, it is important to take share his part of the emotional load. You should not avoid it (don’t be afraid because you do not know how to help) but to be involved in the process.
We had been married for six years by the time of the breast cancer appearance. We were accustomed to live together. But the disease gave us the sense of extreme value of each other. We began to spend more time together, we tried to live each day in a different way and to learn something new. In addition, we began to help people more… I am very serious about the words, so we made a promise to each other to be together in everything. I understand that maybe I was inspired by the romance, but this promise supports me a lot – different thoughts come to mind in difficult time. But if you gave a word – you should keep it. And it’s not heroism but my honest man’s position. Fortunately for us, we defeat the breast cancer, and I am proud that we did it together. I wish you to move forward, no matter how difficult it is.”
According to psychologists, even if you do not relate the breast cancer fatally, it is always very hard to find out such a diagnosis for a woman and for man who is nearby to her. Men prefer not to talk about themselves in difficult moments, “I shouldn’t complain, because it’s not me who has a cancer.” However, the unspoken feelings upset the balance in the couple. Very often husbands don’t know what to do because of their own inability to control what happens, of uncertainty about the future, of unpredictability, of confusing information, of the forecast duality. They hide their anxiety, do not ask questions to doctors and sometimes lie up from the
situation – and it makes their wives to be confused.
The silence is taken as indifference, misunderstanding and mutual irritation arise. A real chasm can appear between partners if they do not want to communicate to each other. It’s necessary to talk to spouses, but sometimes effective communication occurs only after consultation with a psychotherapist. However, if a couple has a good contact before the breast cancer, the disease does not greatly change the attitude of the partners to each other, and then a joint discussion of the fears, concerns, doubts will greatly facilitate the situation. But if the relationship was distant and detached – this couple needs to turn to a psychologist.
Sergei, 53 years old: “I am always near to support her”
“Valentina suspected that it was something wrong with her breast, but the analyses did not confirm our fears. We lived without knowing about the breast cancer for four years. And I’m so sorry, that time was lost. When we found out that it is possible to do a biopsy, without cutting the breast, we immediately went to the hospital. Together. In general, we do everything together.
While waiting for the results of examination, everything seemed to be all right. We were not discouraged, we lived our ordinary life – walked, rested, laughed… But the diagnosis was breast cancer. Valentina was shocked – she couldn’t believe it and cried. But there was no time to think, the study began immediately, and chemotherapies started one after another – our every day was completely busy with medical affairs. And it’s much easier for me: if the battle has began, then, you have to accept it, take action and win.
Although, my role is not the main here – I need to provide support to Valentina so she has the strength to fight. I just have to be around and to help her, to support, to find the right words, to listen… The time before the operation was hard. Valentina was afraid that she did not have enough strength, and I did not know how to calm her down. Once I even said that I would go there instead of her…
Valentina is a very strong woman – that is the reason why she coped with breast cancer. But sometimes she feels bad because of the continuous use of hormonal drugs. Then she calls me, and I talk to her. I know how to listen, and it calms her. Valentina was very worried about that she will cease to be attractive and sexy. But I love her whole, not just some parts of the body. She could not believe it for a long time, she looked into my eyes, and thought that she have to be masked from me… I understand that it’s hard to adapt, but I think that we can live with this. Just live. She has everything needed for this. And I’ll be always nearby.”
Leonid, 61 years old: “I offered her to marry me”
“I met Alena six years ago in New York. Almost by accident… Neither she nor I had the idea to marry immediately, we just wanted to be together. We have just begun to adapt to each other, and then she said that she had a breast cancer. I immediately thought that the treatment is expensive, and offered her to marry me, so she could use my insurance. Of course, I helped her not only with money – Alena needed sympathy and understanding. Fortunately, she defeated the cancer, and the breast was not removed, although post-operative scars remain. It was difficult for her to accept, but not for me. My attitude to Alena hasn’t changed at all. Have you lost or gained weight? Don’t worry, we can find other styles of clothing. Has the age become noticeable? We’ll get more money to look better.
I perceived the disease as a trial, knowing full well that there are the obligations that I have to perform. And I have to follow them. Alena reacted on operation fatally: it is necessary – and I will do it. She is not a fighter, she is very feminine and delicate. I tried my best to ease her pain, and I supported her desire to learn during chemotherapy. Later, it brought her a great success in her career – she was promoted to professor in college! Helping Alena, I instinctively tried to guess what she needs right now – it is very important for the relationships and feelings, and I like to feel closeness and trust.
Hormonal pills, which Alena had to take, would suddenly influence her sexuality. If, before the breast cancer, she was a great woman, then after the treatment – she has become a hungry woman, and I really liked it very much! That’s such an unexpected advantage. And her gratitude to my support was very pleasant, and as a result, we spend all our time together.”
When the man is there for a woman…
The husband should show his love to help his wife to defeat the breast cancer. He should be nearby when his woman wants it, be inventive, trying anything to make her understand and feel that: “I’m here, we are together.”
Being in the cycle of feelings, woman doesn’t want her husband to become a superhero, which will quickly treat her from breast cancer, solve all problems, and life will be the same again. She just wants him to call her from work once more, to find some words which will support and calm her, to do something that would allow her to feel a little better, in other words – a woman wants to feel care and love. And maybe she dreams about a nice surprise or how they have fun together again – two really close people who love each other very much. Isn’t that what marriage is aimed to – giving you a partner, who goes the same direction? Where the life of the one is linked to the life of the other in a solid union.