What Breast Cancer Awareness Means for Men
- Created on October 20th, 2008
- By Marc Heyison
During Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I think it is important that we take time to pause and realize that we must be vigilant each and every day about the dangers and risks of breast cancer.
I think it is great that we have a month dedicated to raising awareness to breast cancer and the role we all must play in being there for the women we love. But as I was told many years ago, "breast cancer does not take a day off."
I know we all know this intuitively, but do we actually incorporate what we need to do the other eleven months out of the year?
Do men know how proactive they can be all year whether breast cancer has touched you or not?
And, most important of all, do we practice what we preach about raising breast cancer awareness and doing what we can do?
I am not sure any of us can honestly answer yes to these questions. We all need to evaluate what we are doing and how we are doing it. This is no different than what we do in our everyday lives. There is always room for improvement.
Men, if breast cancer has touched you, then you know how important your role as a caregiver is to your loved one. I am preaching to a brotherhood that has all cried tears of fear, helplessness, and hopelessness, thinking that our loved one is going to die. It is a job none of us signs up for, but one that we can never shirk. We must be there for the women we love.
This is one of the absolutes in life: being there. It is a hard job with no advanced training, but think about the patient and how important it is that she know you will be by her side come what may.
If you are having trouble dealing with the pressures and fears, seek help, don't shut down. I know this is easy to say and sometimes we think a hurdle we can't top. But, I have seen and talked to men all over the country and found that men are great caregivers. Men who sacrifice professionally, men who go to the doctors or make sure she is not alone, and men who take on roles in the family that they are not accustomed to.
Each family and each role is different depending on your circumstances, but the end result does not change: be there each and every day.
Men, if you are past the treatment stage, make sure your loved one adheres to post-treatment testing and complies fully with any medication she needs to take for the entire period that it should be taken. These are all proactive roles that you must do every day.
Men, if you are fortunate enough that you have not been personally touched by breast cancer, try to do all you can to ensure that it stays that way.
- Make sure your loved one eats right and exercises.
- Make sure she gets her mammograms when it is age appropriate.
- Make sure she does her monthly breast exam and gets a clinical breast exam one time a year when it is age appropriate.
This also applies to those of you have gone through diagnosis and treatment already. I know there are those who are not in favor of breast self-exams and clinical breast exams, but I personally am because you can never be too familiar with your body. I know men who have discovered their partner's tumor by doing the breast exam for her. So, by being diligent at all times not only are you a great caregiver, but you can also play a role in saving someone else’s life and enriching yours and your relationship.
Breast cancer changes your life, but it does not have to control it. Josiah Stamp said, "We can dodge our responsibilities, but we can't dodge the consequences of dodging our responsibilities." This is true in October and in the other eleven months of the year.
Men Against Breast Cancer
Men Against Breast Cancer (MABC) is the first national non-profit organization 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 against breast cancer.
MABC recognizes breast cancer is a family issue that devastates the entire family. Our philosophy is to leverage the support of the whole family to help the patient, with special emphasis on the important role of the husband/partner in caring for the woman he loves. At the same time, MABC recognizes and supports that the ultimate decisions regarding treatment and care are those of the patient.