When Your Wife Is Diagnosed With Breast Cancer, Be a Man

Updated on March 4, 2018
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Chris spent 10 years learning how to support his wife in her battle with breast cancer. He shares openly about his successes and failures.

To Breast Cancer Husbands

In this article, I share my suggestions for men who are the primary supporters of women with breast cancer. My thoughts and observations are based on being with my wife for ten years as she fought against this disease. Here are three very practical and proven suggestions that can quickly turn a man into an effective supporter of the woman in his life who is battling breast cancer.

Sandy and Me on a Great Day

At home with Sandy in her strong days during her fight with cancer
At home with Sandy in her strong days during her fight with cancer | Source

My Experience as a Breast Cancer Husband

My wife, Sandy, and I were married for twenty-four years before breast cancer took her life on April 1, 2008. I want to share three lessons I have learned through this process which are especially appropriate for men whose wives or significant others have been recently diagnosed with breast cancer or are already receiving breast cancer treatment.

  • Focus on your wife.
  • Focus on life.
  • Focus on yourself.

Sandy, the Teacher

Sandy with one of her classes on the annual glacial geology field trip.
Sandy with one of her classes on the annual glacial geology field trip. | Source

Focus on Your Wife

When she has oncologist appointments and treatments, be there. At "routine" doctor appointments, she is hearing good news and bad news and about changes in breast cancer therapy. This oncologist is one of the most important people in her life. I found that it was vital to our relationship that I get to know the doctor as well. It was one way I could support her emotionally. But attending these appointments had a practical purpose as well. Together we were able to better understand what was discussed as we talked about it later.

Attending breast cancer treatments, whether for radiation or chemotherapy, was pure emotional support. If she was having chemotherapy, I could hold her hand, read to her or simply talk to her. My wife had over one hundred radiation therapy treatments. It was helpful for me to keep in mind that during the treatment, everyone had to leave the radiation room. She was alone while the cancer cells and her body were being bombarded. It was an emotional support for her to have me waiting outside when the treatment was over.

Sandy, Lover of Nature

Hiking the East Coast Trail in Newfoundland in the fall of 2007.
Hiking the East Coast Trail in Newfoundland in the fall of 2007. | Source

Focus on Your Wife (Continued)

Some men have affairs and even divorce their wives while they are in treatment. This is the ultimate expression of selfishness and rejection. After struggling in this area, I found that embracing my wife and cancer relieved me of any desire to escape. This is an area in which I genuinely struggled for a time, but I was able to turn away from it in order to truly be my wife's partner. I spent several years learning how to cope with the guilt and shame of my behavior. Men, it is not worth it.

Viewing pornography is another way that some men distract themselves from the monotony and pain of life with breast cancer. This is a matter of faithfulness as well. Once again, after an initial struggle, I learned that focusing on my wife as a woman, provided each of us with a sense of happiness and satisfaction that nothing else could provide. There were times in treatment when a sexual relationship was out of the question. At those times, the intimacy of flowers, a meal prepared by me, or an evening out, communicated to her that she was still special.

Sandy, Kayaking With the Humpback Whales

Kayaking with whales in Newfoundland.  Sandy clapping at the sighting of a Humpback Whale, only eight months before she passed away.
Kayaking with whales in Newfoundland. Sandy clapping at the sighting of a Humpback Whale, only eight months before she passed away. | Source

Focus on Life

Focus on living, not dying. The term metastatic breast cancer became part of our vocabulary in 2000 when Sandy's cancer metastasized to her bones. The doctor told us that at that point her cancer had become incurable. We had a choice. We could spend our time lamenting the prognosis or we could enjoy life. We sat down with our sons and discussed as a family how we wanted to spend the time that we would have together. Unanimously we chose to travel. We knew that financially it would mean not having a lot of other "things". Over the next eight years, we visited many places and had many experiences which, for my sons and me, will always be our favorite memories.

Help your wife to continue living a normal, productive life for as long as she is able and desires it. My wife was an eighth-grade science teacher. From the time of her original diagnosis of breast cancer in 1998, she continued teaching until 2007. This was her choice which I supported. As a result of her hard work, she was an inspiration to her students. At her funeral, the building was packed with over seven hundred people, many of whom were current and former students. Helping our wives to maintain normal, productive lives can yield joyful results for them and those whose lives they touch.

Sandy, Happy and Fulfilled in Spite of Cancer

Sandy, my wife, in Newfoundland on a family trip
Sandy, my wife, in Newfoundland on a family trip

Focus on Yourself

Sacrifice and self-denial are appropriate in some ways for men whose wives are fighting cancer, but there are aspects of our lives which should not be neglected. I found it helpful to have someone I could talk to when I was emotionally worn out. There are support groups, men's groups of Churches, professional counselors, pastors and friends in general with whom we can share our deepest thoughts and feelings. The biggest mistake I made was to fall into the mindset that I didn't need any support. That was the fast way to hurting myself, and diminishing the primary source of support for my wife.

I found that one important way of relieving stress was to get plenty of physical activity. I was a runner before my wife's diagnosis and continued running after that. I did have to be careful not to be obsessed with it, though. One point of physical fitness is to make me a stronger person for those I love.

I developed a drinking problem during my wife's life with cancer and found help for myself in Alcoholics Anonymous. In this way, I was able to regain my appropriate place in the lives of my wife and sons. Men, there is help available in Alcoholics Anonymous.

Sandy

The photo was taken on a section of the Appalachian Trail in Pennsylvania just a few months before Sandy passed away. The lyrics are to a song by Natalie Merchant titled, "Beloved Wife." Click on the image to make it stand out.
The photo was taken on a section of the Appalachian Trail in Pennsylvania just a few months before Sandy passed away. The lyrics are to a song by Natalie Merchant titled, "Beloved Wife." Click on the image to make it stand out. | Source

No Regrets

The jury is still out on whether a positive support system will help breast cancer patients live longer. But, research and common sense do tell us that a positive support system will help cancer patients live happier, fuller lives, cope better with aggressive treatments and be more compliant with treatments.

I consider it a privilege to have stood by my wife's side through her fight. I had periods of absolute failure and times when I was who I needed to be for her. I hope these suggestions have been helpful and serve someone as a pathway to experiencing a full, meaningful life with their loved one now and a life without regrets in the future.

"Beloved Wife," Performed by Natalie Merchant

Questions & Answers

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      • cam8510 profile imageAUTHOR

        Chris Mills 

        3 months ago from Missoula, Montana through August 2018

        Kathryn, Thank you for reading my article. The connection between family members in these trials do become stronger than steel as you have said. We highly value every memory.

      • profile image

        Kathryn H. (Zurstadt) Roever 

        3 months ago

        (Speechless) Reading your Beautiful story, touched me greatly. I was in Awe (truly) of the strength of you and your family. I am amazed at the strength you have shown, and have heard of some of the other stories of families with cancer, in one of their family members. "Family" is more than a word in these cases. It is a precious connection, stronger than steel, and as rare as any Jewel. May God Bless you and your family, now and in the future. Your wife was a very special lady with many gifts and love of life.

        Kathryn Roever (68) Colorado Springs, Co.

        Be Blessed.

      • cam8510 profile imageAUTHOR

        Chris Mills 

        6 months ago from Missoula, Montana through August 2018

        Phyllis, Thank you for your kind words. This article was and is a matter of personal integrity for me. I had to write it because I had something to say. I had to say the good and the bad. It is there for anyone to read, family, friends, anyone. I am not the same man today I was back then. I have grown as a result of all I and my family have endured.

        Sandy was a gem, a shining star, a breath of fresh air. She was a rare human being. One of the questions that haunts me is why she chose me. I will always be grateful that she did. As a result of knowing her and loving her, I have been changed. I do hope this article continues to find its way to those who need the challenge. This is one way I have chosen to honor Sandy and to continue loving her to this day.

      • Phyllis Doyle profile image

        Phyllis Doyle Burns 

        6 months ago from High desert of Nevada.

        Hi Chris. This is a wonderful article that will help other men, as well as anyone, to give the love and support needed to one who is suffering from cancer. I can tell Sandy was a very special person and much loved by you, your sons and all who knew her. Your strength and great love for Sandy is heart warming and memorable. I believe the times you struggled with pulling away through other outlets was something you had to experience in order to test your self, it was a test of who you truly are, and a tremendous growth of spirituality. As God tested job, so were you tested and you came back to your intended path, stronger and more at peace with yourself. I truly admire you for that. The love you shared with Sandy is a true love, a blessed gift for both of you. I have always sensed a good heart and beautiful soul when I think of you. Much love and many hugs to you.

      • THE FAMILY TABLE profile image

        KERRIE 

        7 months ago from CONNECTICUT

        Thanks Chris, you inspired me to get my story out there as well and "I must say, it was quite cathartic to write. I don't like to talk much about it because it's just so damn depressing but I know it's also inspiring to many. Easy to put walls up...writing your feelings down helps for sure :)

      • cam8510 profile imageAUTHOR

        Chris Mills 

        7 months ago from Missoula, Montana through August 2018

        KERRIE, You have quite a story to tell and thank God, every day is a happy continuation. I appreciate all you have said regarding my family. This article is intended to give direction and hope to surviving spouses. Your story gives hope to those still fighting. Thanks for sharing here where others can read and gain courage.

      • THE FAMILY TABLE profile image

        KERRIE 

        7 months ago from CONNECTICUT

        Hi Chris, Thank you for writing and sharing such a personal journey with all of us and I'm so sorry for your loss. What a beautiful story the two of you and your family share. This is very much an inspiration to many. You've all shown such strength and love in getting through this thing the only way you knew how. I'm happy to see you let Sandy LIVE the best life she could regardless of her diagnosis! I have been married for 19 years this year. 2 years into our marriage, my husband was diagnoses with stage 3 esophageal cancer at the age of 40. At that time we had just moved into a new home, had a 1 year old and I was pregnant with our daughter. To say the least, it was the most overwhelming time in our lives. Today he is a living, breathing miracle who has survived what is very rarely survivable. 16 years passed, we had almost gotten past the feeling of "when is that other shoe going to drop?" when BOOM...last year, he was diagnoses with stage 4 kidney cancer. He had his kidney removed within a month and is now 1 year past his surgery with no sign of it returning. Every day we pray for just one more day with a clean bill of health. I know how lucky we are regardless, as I still have him here with me. I am so sorry your lost your beloved wife~~you've helped many with this post of that you can be sure. Be well.

      • profile image

        David Dunn 

        15 months ago

        Thank you Chris. My Wife has just started treatment for Ovarian cancer and I am thinking about how to be her best friend, how to help her to know she is beautiful to me no matter what and just be there to give her strength to face this and not feel alone.

      • btrbell profile image

        Randi Benlulu 

        16 months ago from Mesa, AZ

        Chris, I really do hope you get more views because this hub can truly help others. Once again I am in awe of the grace I and respect you and your family demonstrated while you battled cancer. And your honesty. I have friends going through a similar situation and I see their struggle with trying to keep some sense of normalcy while also creating memories for their kids. Thank you for sharing again.

      • Sunshyne1975 profile image

        SUNSHYNE 

        16 months ago from California, US

        Beautiful hub. It touched my heart. Your wife was so lucky to have such a devoted man by her side in the hours that she needed you the most. God Bless you.

      • cam8510 profile imageAUTHOR

        Chris Mills 

        17 months ago from Missoula, Montana through August 2018

        Janet, I'm glad you found this article. After I read your comment, I started editing. It did need some more work. I think it's better now. Thank you for your kind words of support.

      • profile image

        Janet Ogden 

        17 months ago

        Chris, I had not read about your journey with Sandy as she fought cancer. Sandy was blessed to have you as you were to have her. This article was beautiful, heartfelt, with a lot of wisdom thrown in. We learn during our trials and hopefully we become better people because of what we have been through. I am positive that someone who reads this will glean from it and be the support that they need to be for their loved one. You just might have to wait till you get to heaven to find out how many lives it touched.

      • cam8510 profile imageAUTHOR

        Chris Mills 

        3 years ago from Missoula, Montana through August 2018

        FatBoyThin, I appreciate you reading my article. Coming to terms with my past came as a choice between living the rest of my life in regret or in acceptance. One path would lead to chronic depression, the other to freedom and peace. This is also the best way to honor Sandy. Thanks for your comments.

      • FatBoyThin profile image

        Colin Garrow 

        3 years ago from Kinneff, Scotland

        It's pretty amazing that, after going through so much together, you're able to come to terms with the things you, as a husband, didn't get right, as well as those that you did. Very moving story that demonstrates just how much Sandy meant to you. Shame more men weren't as supportive as you clearly were.

      • cam8510 profile imageAUTHOR

        Chris Mills 

        3 years ago from Missoula, Montana through August 2018

        Randi, It is great to see you again. I'm happy you found this article and found it to be helpful to others. I'm glad to know it still is having an impact. Thank you for your kind words.

      • cam8510 profile imageAUTHOR

        Chris Mills 

        3 years ago from Missoula, Montana through August 2018

        Faith, I'm glad you found this article. It is still difficult for me to read it without getting a bit choked up. Thank you for all you said in your comment and for sharing the article.

      • btrbell profile image

        Randi Benlulu 

        3 years ago from Mesa, AZ

        Chris, Sandy was so lucky to have you and your boys. Cancer is horrible and the pain and indignity so unfair. I'm certain that your respect, love and loyalty made it so much more bearable.

        Thank you so much for sharing this! Up+

      • Faith Reaper profile image

        Faith Reaper 

        3 years ago from southern USA

        Hi Chris,

        I am so glad I found this beautiful hub here from two years ago. I read your recent hub where you had written a bit about your wife and breast cancer. That is a precious photo there of you and your wife.

        Thank you for sharing your insight to help all who read who have family with cancer. This is helpful, as many have already stated, to both genders.

        I am so happy you were there for your wife, and when you were not in good shape, that you sought help. This is a powerful message as to selflessness.

        As you know, I am a breast cancer survivor and can so appreciate your perspective. My husband was great during all of it, and plus we had two of our grandchildren (well, that is all we had at the time) living with us, as well as my son.

        Up and across but funny, tweeting, pinning, G+ and sharing for another round all around

      • cam8510 profile imageAUTHOR

        Chris Mills 

        3 years ago from Missoula, Montana through August 2018

        tlcs, I'm very happy to hear that you and your husband have beaten cancer and moved on in your lives. There is something very bonding about the process when both people can deal with it in a positive way. May you both continue to be in good health and always in love.

      • tlcs profile image

        Trudy Cooper 

        3 years ago from Hampshire, UK

        Hi cam8510, this really has touched my heart. My husband 10 years ago was diagnosed with Thyroid Cancer so I can relate to everything that you have gone through. My husband was cleared of cancer after having two operations and then radio therapy, luckily for me he has survived to tell the tale. I stood by him all the way and being positive about his illness I believe helped him overcome it. Ten years on, we don't look back, only forward. You are a very special person to be able to share the experience in full, and believe me your story has brought back so many memories for me. Thank God he has survived and I know in my heart that if the shoe was on the other foot so to speak he would have supported me in the same way that I did him. I completely understand your feelings of frustration, loneliness and helplessness that you must have felt as I felt it too. Very informative hub and may help others if they are dealing with this dreadful illness.

      • cam8510 profile imageAUTHOR

        Chris Mills 

        3 years ago from Missoula, Montana through August 2018

        Kelly, I'm sorry to hear about the loss of your husband to pancreatic cancer. You mentioned finding comfort in what I've shared here, and I'm glad for that. What I don't hear is any regret on your part. I would bet that's because you supported him and loved him through his illness. Thanks for reading and commenting. I appreciate it.

        Chris

      • cam8510 profile imageAUTHOR

        Chris Mills 

        3 years ago from Missoula, Montana through August 2018

        Peg, I am so glad to hear that your sister is still a Survivor after 16 years with advanced cancer. I can relate to learning much more about this disease than we ever thought we'd know or ever wanted to know. Your family has endured a lot over the years. All the death and sickness has an effect on us. I hope you all continue to love each other and communicate well. Thanks for coming by and reading my article, and for your comments.

      • cam8510 profile imageAUTHOR

        Chris Mills 

        3 years ago from Missoula, Montana through August 2018

        John, Thank you for sharing so much of yourself in your comment. When we, as men, are called on to support our wives during a serious illness, we are simply being what we promised we would be when we got married. We promised to be a faithful supportive husband. We don't get applause or awards for doing what we should do. I can see that you have a firm understanding of that from reading your comments here and from getting to know you here on HubPages over time. You know what you are doing and it sounds like you are doing it very well. It might seem at times that life is passing us by, that we aren't able to get out and do all the things we want to do. But we won't find fulfillment in life if we walk away from our primary responsibility, that being to our spouse. Blessings on you John as you continue to be a blessing to your wife.

      • cam8510 profile imageAUTHOR

        Chris Mills 

        3 years ago from Missoula, Montana through August 2018

        Harishprasad, Thank you for your kind comments. Even now I have trouble accepting things such as what you have said. I prefer to give all the credit to a woman who was absolutely determined to beat cancer, to be there for her family and to keep her family intact. So thank you for your kind words. I will humble accept them and then step out of the way so you can see what kind of person Sandy was.

      • cam8510 profile imageAUTHOR

        Chris Mills 

        3 years ago from Missoula, Montana through August 2018

        Ananceleste, I'm glad you read my article and commented so fully. I would like to respond to what you have shared.

        Your husband's first reaction, if I've identified it correctly, was fear, not anger. Anger is a result of fear. I'm definitely not defending him. Clearly he has not handled this well, but he was afraid. That is in no way meant to minimize how you felt when you first learned of your disease. Even now, I cannot know how a woman feels when she hears the diagnosis. But I do know how I felt, and maybe how some other men feel.

        You recently told him and your kids about where you are with your cancer now. Something motivated him to reach out to you. You may be correct. It may be his sense of guilt. From my completely uninformed position, it might also be that he cares. I don't know.

        One thing is clear to me. You let him go. You had to. Another thing is clear. He has not let go of you in his own head and heart. Yes, his motivations can be questioned and should be. I admitted in my article that I stumbled at times. I am so glad my wife gave me a second chance. So I'm presenting you with this idea as one who is not facing cancer, has not been rejected by a spouse, cannot relate to how you feel. Could it be, that your husband truly wants to support you? Could it be that he still loves you? Does he deserve a second chance? Probably not. I didn't either, but I got one, and I'm glad I did. My wife benefited by giving me that chance. Our sons benefited and I benefited. We all won on that point.

        Please don't misunderstand me. No one should act as he did at the beginning. There is no excuse. There was no excuse for my behavior at times either. But forgiveness can bring healing to a family. That is what I wish for in your situation.

        I hope I have not stepped out too far and said too much. Forgive me if I did. My heart is broken for you and your family. I'm sorry your prognosis is not good. Choose your course well. My thoughts and prayers are with you.

      • Easy Exercise profile image

        Kelly A Burnett 

        3 years ago from United States

        Cam8510

        I lost a wonderful man whom I was married to for seven years to pancreatic cancer in 2005. I cannot tell you the comfort I received reading this.

        Blessings,

        Kelly

      • PegCole17 profile image

        Peg Cole 

        3 years ago from Dallas, Texas

        Your story is inspirational and meaningful in so many ways. One of the biggest fears as a woman is this horrible disease and the aftereffects of treatment and surgery. To have a husband's support and kindness during that time means more than it's possible to imagine. I'm so sorry for your loss. It is reassuring to hear what you've said from a husband's perspective.

        My sister is a survivor after a Stage IV diagnosis in 1999 with no clear margins. We also learned more medical jargon than we ever wanted to know in helping us understand what she was facing. Ten years after her diagnosis, she lost her husband to lung cancer. In the interim, my Dad passed from Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma. It changes your whole perspective about what is really important in life.

        Voted up on all except funny. A beautiful article.

      • cam8510 profile imageAUTHOR

        Chris Mills 

        3 years ago from Missoula, Montana through August 2018

        John and Harishprasad, I will also respond to your comments later today as well.

      • cam8510 profile imageAUTHOR

        Chris Mills 

        3 years ago from Missoula, Montana through August 2018

        Anan, just read your comment and am headed out the door. I'll be back this evening. I wanted you to know that I will respond fully to what you have shared. I'll say more this evening.

      • Jodah profile image

        John Hansen 

        3 years ago from Queensland Australia

        Chris, I had read another hub you wrote about your wife, but obviously not this one. Thank you for sharing your experience of how to be a strong husband during your wife's struggle. My wife is a cancer survivor (cervical cancer) and now suffers from various other ailments including scoliosis, sleep apnea, fibromyalgia etc. I am her carer and at times it is a struggle but I fight those feelings off and realise that we are privileged to have been married for over 32 years and still be together. We may not be able to travel and do a lot of things we planned due to her conditions but at least we can enjoy the things we can do together. Wonderful touching hub, and you should be proud of the job you did as Sandy's caring husband.

      • Harishprasad profile image

        Harish Mamgain 

        3 years ago from New Delhi , India

        My friend Chris, men like you are very rare to be found in any society. People live together in happy times but desert one another in bad times in no time. Your life is a great example for all to consider and emulate when life gets tougher. A great hub indeed !

      • ananceleste profile image

        Anan Celeste 

        3 years ago from California

        I admire and respect people like you. On the other side of the coin, women like me face a long and painful journey alone. Because I saw how my husband reacted to my illness. At first he acted like he did not care and became cruel. Then He got so depressed that I knew It was time for me to split. After twenty years of marriage, he moved out and his problems ended. I am happy that he found himself at last. Two days ago I had to tell him and my kids how far my condition had advanced and the time it took to be so. He started to cry. That infuriated me. Calling every day, sending me messages. I told him to stop, that it was too late. I have been dying alone for five years, and his new found sympathy is insulting. What was I supposed to feel? I went through it alone, picked myself up, and raised our kids alone. He is a good man, but somethings die before the body does. He says he wants to be there. To me, he just feels guilty. He was my everything, for 22 years, the only thing he gave me nothing. I am 38 and know that this relationship deprived me of love and companionship. Yes, I am dying alone but with dignity. I hope, I pray, that he never does this to his next relationship or worse... that no one does this to him.

      • cam8510 profile imageAUTHOR

        Chris Mills 

        3 years ago from Missoula, Montana through August 2018

        Sunshine, Bless you in your position as a caregiver. Thank you for reading my article and for responding.

      • Sunshine625 profile image

        Linda Bilyeu 

        3 years ago from Orlando, FL

        As a wife of a stage 4 Prostate Cancer fighter since 2008 I could relate to so much of your journey. A Cancer journey teaches us more than we ever thought we would know about ourselves and about others. It gives us the strength and determination that we didn't know we were capable of having. Your wife was blessed to have you on her team. Thank you for sharing your story.

      • cam8510 profile imageAUTHOR

        Chris Mills 

        3 years ago from Missoula, Montana through August 2018

        Mary, Thank you for being so sensitive that you found your way to this hub. It was hard to write, and I'm sure many find it hard to read. But these are heart issues that must be dealt with. Thank you for your understanding spirit.

      • cam8510 profile imageAUTHOR

        Chris Mills 

        3 years ago from Missoula, Montana through August 2018

        Jaye, I am so happy that you found your way back to this hub. It means a lot to me that Sandy's love of life can still enrich someone else's life even now. Thank you for all your comments and for your sensitivity.

      • tillsontitan profile image

        Mary Craig 

        3 years ago from New York

        I so understand your comment on my latest hub. You are a sensitive and caring man that can never feel any guilt. You did all you could for your wife and I'm sure she appreciated it. Did you fall down? Being human the answer is yes but you picked yourself up and did better. God bless you and your sons.

        Voted all but funny.

      • JayeWisdom profile image

        Jaye Denman 

        3 years ago from Deep South, USA

        Chris....I read this when you first published it and was in absolute awe of not only you, but your wife and entire family. Her decision to keep working and yours to support her, then the entire family's decision to travel and wring the best out of the life remaining to Sandy was magnificent. I thought I wrote a comment after my first read, but don't see it so it was possible I meant to return and do it when I was no longer crying (but didn't).

        Now that I've re-read this hub, I'm again in awe and understand that the choice you made, while difficult, was also rewarding for you, your wife and all of your family. Your wife Sandy was so blessed to have you at her side, and I'm confident this helped your children as well.

        Okay...I'll admit--I'm typing this through tears, but I challenge anyone to read it without being emotionally touched. You should make a pamphlet out of this hub, Chris, and send it to every oncology office and cancer center in the USA to be given to patients and their spouses. It should be available for people in waiting rooms (doctors' and hospitals') to pick up and take home. It should be required inspirational reading for others facing the same or similar situation.

        By the way, I love the photos with joy radiating from Sandy's face. How wonderful that she lived out her life in such a fulfilling manner, enjoying travel with her family.

        Voted Up++++ and shared

        Jaye

      • cam8510 profile imageAUTHOR

        Chris Mills 

        3 years ago from Missoula, Montana through August 2018

        Paula, Thank you for all the kind words and the understanding. It sounds as though you do know what it is like to lose someone so close. I wrote this hub and put it out there in the hope that someone would be encouraged to hold on and to commit themselves to their loved one completely. This is one small thing I can do.

      • fpherj48 profile image

        Paula 

        3 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

        This is an opportunity for me to see how well I can comment while bawling my heart out......Chris, I am consumed with emotion right now. Your story has left me in awe.

        The pictures of your wife and the two of you are simply priceless. Pure devotion.

        You and Sandy were blessed with one another. Although I can be certain you both fervently wished for more time together, I can tell you are most grateful for the wonderful, enriching 24 years you had.

        I know only too intimately the pain of loss. When we lose the "love of our life," .....the devastation seems far more than we can be expected to bear. We come terrifyingly close to losing all will to go on.....and yet we do go on. Chris, you gave your wife the most precious gift of her life by being the selfless, loving and supportive husband you were.

        My tears have only gotten worse. I think I'm done here. Peace, Paula

        UP UBA&I shared, pinned,googled, tweeted

      • cam8510 profile imageAUTHOR

        Chris Mills 

        4 years ago from Missoula, Montana through August 2018

        biggin, Thank you for your comment and for sharing your experiences here. I remember well those first chemo treatments and the radiation. The chemo, and the drugs given along with it, seem to take every ounce of energy away. You have sacrificed to be with your wife during this time, and I believe you have done the right thing. But the bills need to be paid. It would complicate matters even more if you fell too far behind on your house payment and other bills. If I may say so, it sounds like it is time to make other arrangements in regards to your wife's care so that you can return to work. That is a hard pill to swallow. I had to go back to work too, although I was able to return home every day. We had friends come in to care for my wife during the day when she was on chemo. Maybe something like that can be worked out for your situation. My heart goes out to you and your wife. You have followed your heart up to this point, which is good. Now it is time to follow your good, solid thinking. Best of luck to you and your wife.

      • cam8510 profile imageAUTHOR

        Chris Mills 

        4 years ago from Missoula, Montana through August 2018

        Biggin, I just saw your comment. I can't write more now. Please check back. I will be writing more to you.

      • profile image

        biggin 

        4 years ago

        My wife found a mass on her breast in September and in October had both her breast remove. She is going through 16 rounds of chemo and then she will have 30 rounds of radiation and then chemo pill for 5 years. I go to all her treatments but this week will be the last one because I will have to go back to working out of town for six weeks. This breaks my heart because I cook and clean for her and would do anything for her. But the stress of losing things is to much for her. I lost my truck and behind on rent but the thought of being away from her is almost to much for me to go through. We have our good days but right now she sleeps allot. I kiss her bald head and tell her how much I love her and she feels bad because she can't do more around the house. I just looking for the day we have our life back and I can hold her once again. thanks for this page because it reminds me that I am not along in this travel through this fight with cancer

      • cam8510 profile imageAUTHOR

        Chris Mills 

        4 years ago from Missoula, Montana through August 2018

        Bingo, I'm sorry your path is difficult right now. I don't know the prognosis of your wife's illness. But I would like to encourage you to be a strong person at this time. She may be behaving irrationally, but she is the one who is potentially facing death. In our own humanness we are called upon to be men at

        times such as these.

      • profile image

        Bingo 

        4 years ago

        The author was a lucky man. My experience has unfortunately been one of killing myself to care for her and fund the treatment. For her, infidelity, secrecy, hiding/stealing money, physical abuse of me, scaring the kids. Man to man, my advice would be to care for her as you would want to be cared for...but get all your own information. She is not herself.

      • cam8510 profile imageAUTHOR

        Chris Mills 

        4 years ago from Missoula, Montana through August 2018

        Anna, I appreciate you coming and reading this hub. It is obviously the most personal of all my hubs. I've tried to share here anything that will help other men to step up and fully be men in situations such as mine.

      • Anna Haven profile image

        Anna Haven 

        4 years ago from Scotland

        Very moving and inspiring hub. Your wife sounds an incredible lady and I am so sorry to hear of your loss. Your words may make this incredibly hard journey just a little easier for others. Your writing was very moving and honest and the love shone brightly through.

        Anna

      • Fossillady profile image

        Kathi 

        5 years ago from Saugatuck Michigan

        Oh Chris, This is the most useful and openly honest hub I've ever read. You helped a lot of men here who may be struggling with the same destructive issues. At the same time, you've shown women what they should expect from a loving, caring partner. Your wife sounds amazing, she coped with cancer for so long and fought hard and she did it with dignity.

        My husband died of lung cancer. After we got the diagnosis (and I went to every appointment) he was gone in six months. In some ways, that was a blessing because he still had some weight to him and strength left and was not bedridden. I think his soul said it's time now and took him before hospice even had the chance to prepare for the final days. They were shocked.

        How are you doin with everything, do you see your sons? We have two sons as well, who lost a father at a young age, like your sons who lost a beautiful mother. Hugs, Kathi

      • Nellieanna profile image

        Nellieanna Hay 

        5 years ago from TEXAS

        Yes, Chris, the regrets must be released, and I do, not that I don't miss him, but it's because of the good things we shared, not gloom. But at the time, surely the greatest regret is that, despite one's diligence and loving care, the loved one still dies when that time comes. One just wanted to grab hold and not let him or her go. But it's not in one's power. Teaches us humility like nothing else can.

        I've never doubted that he'd want me to go on and live abundantly, though. In fact, it would be a disservice to his memory to do otherwise. When I am happy, productive and positive, it's like carrying on his attitudes in life. If our situations had been reversed, I'd want him to get up and joyfully go on with life.

      • cam8510 profile imageAUTHOR

        Chris Mills 

        5 years ago from Missoula, Montana through August 2018

        Nellieanna, of course, Chris is fine. My heart aches whenever I hear another person's story about caring for their spouse, because I know the pain, fear and loneliness. Thank you for sharing this with me. I am reminded that I am not alone, and that there are those who truly understand. I am finding that the regrets, whether small or big must be let go. They are a drain on me emotionally and a drag on my progress of becoming a whole, single person. Blessings on you Nellieanna.

      • Nellieanna profile image

        Nellieanna Hay 

        5 years ago from TEXAS

        I am tremendously impressed with your hub. Though it's addressed man-to-man and applies to a situation in which many men must be involved every day. But the sensible handling of being a caregiver for a beloved mate applies to women with their husbands with various serious maladies, as well.

        My beloved George had a heart attack which involved a few moments of his leaving the body, enough to affect his oxygen supply to part of his brain. It set off a loss of short term memory which escalated over the next 7 years and was part of on oncoming dementia. I had to wake up and become his strength and more than just help-meet.

        As you say, the jury is out about whether a good, constant support system prolongs life of the one needing it, but there can be little doubt - in my mind, at least - that it does enhance the quality of the person's remaining days.

        My main regrets about it are when I recall some little thing I could have done and didn't or something I did and shouldn't have. I was sometimes picky or sharp with him. I now proclaim out loud to the air that I wouldn't have wanted to do that! But one is human and gets impatient at times; I admit to myself that I sometimes did.

        He never lost his loving attitude toward me, but he was 10 years my senior to start with & diminshing, too. But what was most difficult was that he simply took much of what I was doing to keep things going normally, for granted. And it was such a full-time job, as I perceive you understand! Once or twice, though, his mind clicked in & he realized what-all I had to do & needed to take care of, in addition to taking care of him. At those times he was painfully apologetic. Made me glad he didn't fully realize it all the time! My purpose was to keep him both as healthy as possible and as happy as possible. I think that he was, overall. He passed away Sept. 5, 2008 and I miss him so much.

        I mention this because your hub is beautifully applicable to both genders. Thank you for it, Chris - if I may call you that.

      • cam8510 profile imageAUTHOR

        Chris Mills 

        5 years ago from Missoula, Montana through August 2018

        Hi Emmett, Thank you for stopping by to read my article. It is good to be grateful everyday for the wonderful people in our lives.

      • EmmettSmith1 profile image

        Emmett Smith 

        5 years ago

        This is a very good article. Makes me think and be thankful for my families good health.

      • cam8510 profile imageAUTHOR

        Chris Mills 

        5 years ago from Missoula, Montana through August 2018

        Tim, I am very happy that you you found my hub helpful. Yes, use my hub in any way in which it may be helpful. Good luck in supporting your friend in Sweden. Thanks for visiting and reading.

      • tsmog profile image

        Tim Mitchell 

        5 years ago from Escondido, CA

        Thank you so much cam8510. My condolence and heartfelt for this powerful sharing. I wrote the three themes down. I will be following your profile if I am not now. May I use this unique and inspiring hub with a future hub? I have a friend I studied with who went through a Mastectomy before graduating college.

        The power of this hub for me personally is the wisdom of those three themes - Focus on Your Wife, Focus on Your Life, and Focus on Yourself. The secret I see is achieving the balance of these three while realizing adjustments leaning toward one or the other will have to be made.

        I have a Dearest Best Friend with Fibromyalgia. These themes you presented will guide me in that quest toward being a Dearest Best Friend for her, even though I am in the states and she in Sweden. It is a learning process.

        Thank You Cam8510

        Tim

      • cam8510 profile imageAUTHOR

        Chris Mills 

        6 years ago from Missoula, Montana through August 2018

        TIMETRAVELER2, A heartfelt thank you for reading and commenting. You are very kind and generous.

      • cam8510 profile imageAUTHOR

        Chris Mills 

        6 years ago from Missoula, Montana through August 2018

        Innerspin, thank you for reading and commenting. It means a lot. Maybe the key phrase in my hub was "Some of these things I learned as a result of hindsight." Not everything, but some. Thanks again.

      • TIMETRAVELER2 profile image

        Sondra Rochelle 

        6 years ago from USA

        This was a magnificent peace of heartbreaking writing. You are an extremely special person and I know that this article will help many, many people. Voted up, interesting, beautiful and awesome.

      • innerspin profile image

        Kim Kennedy 

        6 years ago from uk

        Amazing. I'm certain your wife appreciated your support. It must have been very tough, but how fabulous that your family made decisions together and have positive memories alongside the pain. Thank you for the powerful hub.

      • cam8510 profile imageAUTHOR

        Chris Mills 

        6 years ago from Missoula, Montana through August 2018

        mcbirdbks, Thank your reading my hub and for the very appreciated comment.

      • mckbirdbks profile image

        mckbirdbks 

        6 years ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

        One of the strongest messages I have read.

      • cam8510 profile imageAUTHOR

        Chris Mills 

        6 years ago from Missoula, Montana through August 2018

        Becky Katz, you are a survivor. Early detection is everything. The hormone blockers that my wife took prolonged her life by years. So happy that your prognosis is favorable.

      • Becky Katz profile image

        Becky Katz 

        6 years ago from Hereford, AZ

        I am impressed with any man who stands by his love when things are bad. I am totally disgusted with these men who take this as an excuse to fool around. I know men have needs but this is selfish to the extreme. I am so sorry for your loss and I hope life treats you well.

        I had breast cancer three years ago and luckily it was found while very small. It was surgically removed with safe margins and I only had to have radiation instead of chemo. Just burns and not the sickness. I am still discolored there but oh well. I will be taking a hormone blocker for another two years because mine was caused by hormone therapy.

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