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Husbands Who Leave During Breast Cancer

Sunday, November 07, 2010

©Survivorship Media Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

We’ve all heard stories about husbands who leave their wives after they've been diagnosed with breast cancer. I heard one this week, and it’s broken the heart of every member of that family. To think you know someone so well, believing he was one of the finest men you’d ever met… Your family considered him more than a brother-in-law or a son-in-law. His children and the rest of the children in the family looked up to him as a role model. I don’t have the words to finish these sentences, to comfort this family. I am devastated for them, and I am ticked-off! <PREVIEWEND>

There’s always another side to every story. I wish I knew his side: why he left them, why he abandoned his wife and children when they need him most? Regardless of his story, there’s not a justifiable explanation for such betrayal. Today I called a friend who’s been in the same situation and asked, “What advice would you give this woman?” My friend said everyday, she asked God to hold her hand, repeating it like a mantra. “Please, God. Don’t let go of my hand. Then I had to make a conscious decision to find a way to move on with my life.”

I can’t imagine the grief this woman is feeling, but I do know, this is not her fault. Regardless of his story, she had no choice whether she got breast cancer or not. Her husband had a choice. Men, how do you justify this? What do you tell yourself when you’re alone with your thoughts? What will you tell your children or the next woman who comes into your life? What will you tell God? My husband says to tell you he doesn’t want you in the same foxhole with him. He doesn’t even want you on the same battlefield. He said if you’ll cut and run on your wife, you’ll cut and run on anyone.

Women, I know this is easier said than done, but don’t let yourself be the victim. Your grit, your will, your family, your faith in God, will get you through this. You have an innate strength and courage. Own it. Draw on it. Make it your own. Please consider finding someone to help you work through this; to help you get you through your shock and grief, and then your anger, until you’re on your way to creating your new normal.

The mind/body connection is as important as surgery, chemo and radiation. There is good science that indicates major life events like serious illness, death, divorce, a new baby, change of jobs, a move, even a promotion, can be taxing to our immune system. They can pile up, exponentially, and have a negative impact on our health. Perhaps the director of patient services at your cancer center can give you the name of a counselor who specializes in counseling cancer families.

Another thing that might be helpful is Guided Imagery/hypnosis. I’ve used hypnosis and Guided Imagery for over 25 years, and I know, firsthand, that it’s one of the best tools we have to deal with trauma and problems of any kind. Again, consider asking the director of patient services. In every way, you must make your healing a top priority.

You’ve heard this before, but drink tons of water each day and remember to eat a good diet. The simple act of walking in your neighborhood can fire up the right endorphins which can help counteract depression. All of these things will help flush the chemo from your system and make you stronger and better able to deal with this. ABOVE ALL, do not think you did anything to deserve this, because you didn’t! I don’t care what the back-story is. He had a choice. You didn’t.

If a serious illness teaches us nothing else, it should be that family is everything and with God, everything is possible. The celebrities of the month, and the media that splashes their stories so we see them on television, at the grocery checkout stand and on our computers, are sending us the wrong messages. Too many of us are listening and patterning our lives after these tinseltown train wrecks.

Marriages and families are not disposable. They are the very core that sustains us through every crisis and celebrates our every victory. We, as a country, have lost our moral perspective, and I pray each one of us stops to say, “Please, God. Don’t let go of my hand. Show me the way.”


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