Do men understand the mental anguish?


Question from bonnie: I was diagnosed with DCIS in September, had a mastectomy and reconstruction in October. My husband seems to think it's no big deal because I'm pretty much back to doing things the way I used to. However, do men ever understand the mental anguish that we go through?
Answers - Lidia Schapira Probably not. I don't want to generalize, but here I am doing just that! As I said earlier, even the best husbands really want things to snap back in an orderly way, and want to restore the sense of peace and comfort that preceded the shock of illness. It is quite typical for women to feel the stress of the diagnosis and treatment months and sometimes years afterwards. This is a fact, and one that does not need to separate you from your husband or produce distance between the two of you.

I would strongly encourage you to talk about your fears and anxieties in the safe surroundings of a support group or with a friend, and accept the fact that your husband cannot accompany you in this aspect of the journey.
Jennifer Armstrong, M.D. I don't think one person can ever understand the mental anguish of another person, male or female. But my advice is slightly different than that of Dr. Schapira. I would encourage you to at least try to talk about your feelings with your husband first. Sometimes that which is so obvious to us is not as obvious to those we love. But that doesn't necessarily mean that there is not caring, or that your husband would not wish to accompany you on this journey. He just may need a little more guidance on where it has started, and where it is going.

If you are not able to get the support you need from him, I totally agree with Dr. Schapira in reaching out to others who can support you in the way that you need. You should certainly check out the Breastcancer.org Discussion Boards and Chat Rooms to talk with other people who may be going through similar experiences.

On Wednesday, March 15, 2006, our Ask-the-Expert Online Conference was called Coping with Your Changing Feelings and Relationships. Lidia Schapira, M.D. and moderator Jennifer Armstrong, M.D. answered your questions about facing your fears head-on, handling moodiness and depression, diffusing tension with your partner and feeling close without sexual activity, as well as issues of self-image and femininity.

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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