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'Women's' Diseases Men Get, Too

What it's like to be a man with breast cancer, lupus, or osteoporosis.

Dealing With Your Diagnosis continued...

Here's how to cope better if you come down with one of these ailments -- or any chronic health problem.

  • Find support. Check your local hospital for support groups for men with chronic diseases in general, Courtenay says. "Men have less social support than women do. They have fewer friendships and smaller social networks. And people who have less support don't do as well coping with disease." You can also find health-related groups online, where you're more likely to find men with rare diseases.
  • Build a new identity. Every guy someday has to cope with losing an element that makes him feel like a man. Muscles shrink, hairlines recede, and some parts may not always work the way they used to. But just as men might like having more time for home projects and parenting after they lose a job, you may enjoy seeking new challenges after disease jolts your identity, even though it's a situation you never would have wanted. "Men who forge a new identity often feel like a new person, a person they really like. They may feel like they're living a less restricted life," Courtenay says.
  • Plan. If you suspect your ailment is going to lead to embarrassing discussions, think about how you can stay in control of these moments. Remember, your health is your business. Who you tell, and when, is your call.

Mautner, 59, who works at a pharmaceutical company by day and as a wedding DJ in his spare time, has never been ashamed of the scar on his hairy chest. Now cancer-free for five years, he welcomes the chance to share his story to educate people. "I'm not embarrassed about it. It's just something that happened to me, and it's not what I'm all about."

Reviewed on August 23, 2011

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