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Breast Cancer Health Center

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Man's Guide to Breast Cancer

Author John W. Anderson shares insights on how men can stand by women with breast cancer.

What can men do to help women in their lives feel good about themselves while being treated for breast cancer?

It depends on whether it’s a husband-wife, father-daughter, mother-son, or another type of relationship. Husbands can make their wives feel good by bringing her flowers and telling her you think she is as beautiful as the day you met. Her femininity has been challenged in this situation and she needs to know you are there for her. There is no cast-iron way to do this, but tune in to her needs, wants, fears, and insecurities.

Many women with breast cancer say that their partners had a hard time with their appearance after treatment, especially at first. Did that happen for you?

“It is impossible to generalize how each man reacts to his partner when he first sees how his loved one looks to him after surgery. Keep in mind that many breast cancer surgeries are lumpectomies, which are partial removals of breast tissue, not a full removal like a mastectomy, so the change isn’t necessarily that extreme. With that said, sure there are men out there who have a hard time with it, but I would say that most men don’t, especially if they truly love their wives or significant others.

For me, I was so happy to see Sharon after her surgery, to know that her tumors had been removed, that she looked more beautiful to me than ever before. I still feel that today.

When Sharon looked at her mastectomy for the first time, she said that she felt emotionally, as well as physically, numb. She didn’t know how to feel at all. But after she showed me what had been done to her, and I told her how beautiful she was to me, and how much I loved her, it was then that her feelings came rushing back to her. Our marriage had taken a major step forward when this happened. Sharon said it was right then that she knew that our marriage was not only going to be fine, but better because of this experience.”

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