One in seven women will develop breast cancer, and hopefully will begin the long, arduous road to recovery. She will go through therapy and treatment, which will exhaust both her and the man in her life. Supporting her through this process is the most important thing a man can do, yet it is hard to know exactly what you need to do for her.
Every situation is different, so any advice needs to be assessed, but there are some general guidelines you can follow. Her struggle is something you can help her with in diverse ways. She’ll be scared; help her feel safe.
Don’t try to fix her
The first thing you need to do when dealing with your wife’s breast cancer is to let go of control. She knows that there is no magic cure for her cancer. She is in it for the long haul – through surgery, radiation, and chemo; nothing you do can change that. You can’t make her cancer go away, no matter how positive your attitude is. The decisions are hers to make, and her doctor is the best person to advise her.
Listen to her
The thing that she needs most is support, so if she wants to talk, listen to her. Really listen, and acknowledge her feelings. Validate them, if possible. Hear what she really needs, and give that to her. In other words, react to her. She will feel different on different days, constantly changing, so acting before listening can be fruitless and frustrating.
In stressful situations, human beings are less likely to remember things said to them. When visiting the doctor’s office, go with her and take avid notes on what the doctor says. This can help down the road, when she is trying to recall something she was told.
Make her laugh
Laughter truly is the best medicine; it can completely turn her day around, and allow her to feel better about her situation. Be careful of your sense of humor, don’t degrade her, but if you can make her laugh at herself, she will immediately feel better.
Show your support
Both the woman in your life and all women who have struggled or are still fighting breast cancer love when a man shows open support for breast cancer annihilation. Even if you show it in small ways, like getting breast cancer awareness shirts or keychains or pinning a ribbon to your briefcase, or in big ways like attending a breast cancer walk. She will love that you are proud about fighting for her cause.
If you expect to maintain a positive attitude for your wife or girlfriend, you need to take a break from the routine. Every guy needs to unwind once in a while, to keep from going insane. Have a night out with the guys, go golfing or to the bar, or just call a close friend or relative. Going to the gym can get out a lot of frustration. By doing something to relax, you can continue to make her feel comfortable and at ease.
Use these tips to help the woman in your life recover from this devastating disease. Keep her upbeat by maintaining a good attitude, get out your own frustrations, and listen to what she really needs. Make her laugh to relieve stress and tension, and know that you can’t fix her. Make sure you keep her company during this hard time.
Sara Stricker is part of a team of dedicated writers who contribute hundreds of quality articles to blogs and sites. Follow her @StrickerSara for more articles.