The husband's guide to breast cancer

Couple holding hands. Love: Its worth fighting for. Its the one thing in life that truly is...
A couple of months ago I was introduced to Todd Outcalt. Todd is a co-survivor; his wife Becky is an 11 year survivor of breast cancer. Because of their experience with the disease, Todd wrote a helpful book for husbands of women who are diagnosed with breast cancer based on information he learned while they went through treatment. When I learned about the book, I was touched and happy that Todd chose to add his voice to the conversation about breast cancer. Co-survivors need support and this book should provide a good source of information for them. Please read his heartfelt post and be sure to share it with any husbands that you know who may need to understand that they aren't alone in this journey with their wife.


Three Goals for Guys

Soon after my wife was diagnosed with breast cancer I went in search of helpful information and tips that would prepare me for my role as a support partner. This information wasn’t readily available.  There were plenty of books, magazines and web sites devoted to a woman’s needs (and rightly so), but guides designed to help men were fewer and farther between.

In short order, however, I began receiving helpful counsel from friends and family members who had walked this path with their wives.  There were more breast cancer survivor husbands than I realized.

Taking away the best of the best, I eventually settled upon three goals that I wanted to achieve as a support partner and husband through my wife’s breast cancer journey.  I pass them along here as key ingredients to your support, and hope you will find them helpful.

Goal #1:  Be the support—don’t just talk about it.

This was important on many fronts.  There were many aspects of my wife’s journey that were not conducive to my presence.  I would have rather talked about these, or assigned someone else to “be there.”  For example, spending the night with my wife post-surgery was a draining experience (the cot, the sleeplessness, the discussion with nurses).  But I couldn’t just say I was supportive, I had be there with my wife, by her side, and with every one of the subsequent steps in her healing it became easier to accomplish.  Our love deepened through these fearful and uncomfortable points, and I was glad that I made every effort, cleared my calendar, and took the journey with her.

Goal #2:  Wear different hats.

The breast cancer journey will press men to be and do what they didn’t think was possible.  During my wife’s surgery and recovery period I learned how to cook from her recipes, completed my first loads of laundry, changed bed linens, fluffed pillows, made runs to the grocery store, accompanied my children to school activities, and generally ran the household by myself for a short period.  I wouldn’t say I was a single-parent, but close.  All of these varied endeavors taught me much, however.  And I essentially learned that I had a greater capacity for multi-tasking than I realized.  Even work was easier once I returned to the desk.  After breast cancer, the rest of life is gravy and the days seem simpler and less complicated.  Wearing all of those hats increased my life skills and my talents.

Goal # 3:  Bring our lives back to “normal”.

Book cover. Husband's guide to breast cancer

Well, what’s normal?  In truth, life never completely returns to the same place after a breast cancer experience.  She is changed.  And he usually is, too.  But this isn’t a bad thing . . . in fact, it can be quite positive.  What I discovered is that we were creating a new “normal” post-recovery.  My wife changed careers (this is more common than you think!) and I was soon talking about these experiences and seeing the carry over to other aspects of our lives (marriage, parenting, careers).  All in all, getting back to normal is simply learning how to help your wife live as a breast cancer survivor.  Time changes things—and most couples discover that the new normal is better than the old.  It’s all in how you look at it.

~Todd Outcalt, author of Husband’s Guide to Breast Cancer (Blue River Books). His wife, Becky, is an 11-year breast cancer survivor.
 You can purchase Todd's book via this link: 
Husband's Guide to Breast Cancer: A Complete & Concise Plan for Every Stage

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