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Husband of a Cancer Survivor

It has been about one year since my wife was diagnosed with breast cancer. Having undergone two surgeries, chemotherapy, radiation, Herceptin treatment, estrogen blocking treatment, and countless tests and scans, my wife is now doing very well. Her hair is growing back (it is about 1 inch) and she has even given a talk about being a breast cancer survivor to a group of women organized by a church and medical group.

I have learned a lot and changed a lot during the process, which is still ongoing.

What I would like to say here is that it is extremely important -- more important than words can possibly convey -- for a husband to be supportive when his wife is diagnosed with cancer. I have tried to be supportive and to learn as much as I can about my wife's cancer and treatment options.

But I have been very sad to learn, by speaking to many women who have had or have cancer, that some husbands simply cannot handle their wife's illness and offer no support at all. This is more common than you might expect -- more than I had expected.

Everyone is different, and I can appreciate how difficult an illness can be. But as a husband I feel that the least I can do is to try my best to be supportive -- to be there for my wife. Cancer should not weaken our relationship -- it should be another thing that we go through together.

How can we practice Karate and claim to be strong if we are not strong enough to support our loved ones during a time of need? We have to be strong enough to be strong for someone else.


Charles C. Goodin