- Question from Carol: My husband is afraid to show his fear of my condition and his anxiety that we don't know what the outcome will be. His frustration comes out in small fits of temper triggered by little things. I don't know how to help him get through this.
- Answers - Marc Silver Wow! I did that! It's a very hard question whether guys should reveal their feelings or whether it's better for the wife not to hear how frightened we are. Some guys cry in the car — actually a lot when they think nobody can see them. The best thing is to be open about the fact that you're there for each other and share the feelings that you think are right to share at that time.
Rosalind Kleban, L.C.S.W.
I have had many, many experiences with women who claim to want to hear the true and honest thoughts and fears of their partners. The truth is, they really don't. This is a time of tremendous vulnerability when they have extraordinary fears of their own, and it's helpful to be around a partner who appears strong and confident.
One patient told me that her husband was amazingly supportive when she went through her treatment 12 years ago, and her only annoyance was his complete assurance that she would be well.
Many years later he shared with her that he feared that she would die. She realized that she was very fortunate that she didn't know this at the time she was going through her treatment. His optimism at the time was annoying, but ultimately helpful and supportive. It's kind of a no-win situation for guys surrounding their partners.
- Marc Silver I'm very lucky to be in a support group for husbands only right now. For many men, their wife is their confidante, and they feel they can no longer confide in her when she's facing breast cancer. For me to be able to go once a month to sit with these guys and a psychologist who runs the group and talk openly is a tremendous feeling of relief. Alas, there aren't many such groups around.
- Marisa Weiss, M.D. On Breastcancer.org there is a discussion board for family and caregivers. If you do not find a discussion board that helps you, you can start one, and people from around the world can join in if they share your concerns.
- Marc Silver That's one of the messages in my book — we're not alone. I gained great comfort from knowing there's a brotherhood of breast cancer husbands.
The Ask-the-Expert Online Conference called Family and Loved Ones featured Rosalind Kleban, L.C.S.W., author Marc Silver, and moderator Marisa Weiss, M.D. answering your questions about the issues surrounding family members and caregivers living with and caring for women affected by breast cancer.
Editor's Note: This conference took place in September 2004.
The materials presented in these conferences do not necessarily reflect the views of Breastcancer.org. A qualified healthcare professional should be consulted before using any therapeutic product or regimen discussed. All readers should verify all information and data before employing any therapies described here.
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