Supporting Her and Yourself: A Guide for Men Caring for Women on the Breast Cancer Journey

June is Men's Health Month, a time to focus on the often-overlooked well-being of the guys out there. But let's face it, when the one you love is diagnosed with breast cancer, your own health, especially mental health, can easily fall by the wayside.  For men who are caregivers to women battling breast cancer, this time is especially relevant. Supporting a loved one through breast cancer is a profound act of love and dedication, but it’s also a journey that can take a toll on your mental health. Balancing her needs with your own is essential not only for her recovery but also for your own well-being.

If you are anything like the awesome men in my life, you're the rock, the pillar of strength, the one holding everything together for her. But even rocks need a good chiseling now and then. Here's the truth: taking care of yourself during this challenging time isn't selfish, it's essential.


Understanding the Emotional Impact

Breast cancer doesn’t just affect the person diagnosed; it ripples through the lives of everyone who loves her. As a man, you might feel the pressure to be strong, to be the rock she can lean on. While this is a noble and necessary role, it’s crucial to acknowledge and address your own emotions:

  1. Fear and Anxiety: The fear of losing someone you love or seeing her suffer can be overwhelming.
  2. Guilt: You might feel guilty for being healthy or for needing time for yourself.
  3. Frustration: The feeling of helplessness can be frustrating when you want to fix the situation but can’t.
  4. Sadness and Grief: Mourning the life you had before the diagnosis is a natural part of the process.

These feelings are valid. Don't bottle them up.


If You are Not Okay, Don’t Stay That Way. That’s Not Okay.

Prioritize your mental well-being. Here are some ways:

  • Talk it out: Find a friend, family member, therapist, or support group for men facing similar situations. Sharing your feelings with someone who understands is crucial.
  • Maintain routines: Exercise, healthy eating, and enough sleep create a foundation for mental resilience. Prioritize activities that keep you grounded.
  • Don't be afraid to ask for help: You don’t have to go through this alone. Whether it's sharing household chores, childcare, or errands, delegate tasks. Lean on your support system.
  • Seek professional help: Talking to a therapist can give you tools to manage stress,  anxiety, and the traumatic experience of this diagnosis. Don't hesitate to seek professional guidance.

Remember, You're a Team

While you're taking care of yourself, remember, communication is key. Here are some ways to stay connected with your partner:

· Be open and honest: Talk about your feelings openly and actively listen to hers. Share your feelings and fears with her and encourage her to do the same. This mutual sharing can strengthen your bond and provide emotional relief for both of you

  • Offer support, not solutions: Sometimes, just being there and listening is the best thing you can do.
  • Emphasize the positive: Celebrate milestones, no matter how small. Focus on hope and resilience.

Practical Tips for Day-to-Day Support

Balancing emotional support with practical help is key. Here are some practical ways to support her:

  • Attend Appointments: Go with her to medical appointments to provide support and understand her treatment.
  • Household Help: Take on more household responsibilities to reduce her stress.
  • Listen: Sometimes, the best support is simply listening without trying to fix things.
  • Encourage Rest: Ensure she gets plenty of rest and help her manage fatigue.
  • Be Patient: Understand that mood swings and emotional outbursts are part of the journey.
  • Build Her Confidence – This is often a time when her self-esteem may be lower than before especially if she has had hair loss and other changes with her body. Remind her that she is beautiful.  
  • Educate yourself on resources – learn about resources available at websites such as the American Cancer Society, BreastCancer.org, or Touch The Black Breast Cancer Alliance.  You can find more resources here: https://hopelacenter.com/breast-cancer

Gentlemen, remember, you’re not alone. Reach out, connect, and take care of your mental health. Check out some of the resources for men below to help you navigate these challenging waters and emerge stronger together. Both you and your partner deserve it. 

Resources for Men

If you are in the South Carolina area and are ready to focus on your mental health as you navigate the journey, visit Hope-La Center for Therapy, Wellness, and Training at https://hopelacenter.com to schedule a free consultation.