GRAND RAPIDS, MICH. - Breast cancer doesn't just affect the woman diagnosed with breast cancer: it also affects her partner.
It was 3 years ago in February when Tim Phillips wife, Jori, first found a lump in her breast, but it was not until after a second opinion that they found out that Jori had Stage 4 breast cancer.
Tim talks with Health Reporter Valerie Lego about what it’s like for a husband to hear his wife has breast cancer:
I made sure to keep her at the center of it. She needed me to double down on my commitment to her in her hour of need. Her unspoken fear was that I would assume that the grim diagnosis would lead me to believe that she was a lost cause. She needed me to reaffirm to her that she was worth fighting for, and to fight voraciously.
I knew nothing of cancer but quickly read enough research to get her to the specialists and 2nd opinions that she needed. We both went to counseling, I supported her getting the nutrition that she needed (juicing, vitamins, etc), for the first year, I went to every MD appointment, every chemo session etc.
We had an incredible outpouring of love and support from friends, family and co-workers. They literally carried us through the worst 2 years of Jori's fight. People rallied around Jori and our family and made sure that our needs were met so that I could focus on Jori. Jori joined the Young Survivors group who jumped right in and shared their collective wisdom, befriended us, and provided support to her.
With such a grim diagnosis, I wanted them to know that if their mom couldn't be here with us that I did/we did everything possible to keep her alive. I wanted to demonstrate to my wife that that I was "all in".
It’s important for husbands and partners to learn all that you can about the topic. Get the help that you need, someone needs to fill your bucket and it cannot be your wife right now. Having at least 1 man in my life that had already walked this road that I could talk to, share my struggle and my fears with was pivotal in keeping my sanity to enable me to be effective in serving my wife's needs.
Accept help, no matter how awkward it feels at the moment. You are in for a journey and you can't burn out it the 1st mile. Buffer your wife from take anything you can, take anything off of her plate that you can so that she can focus on healing and getting well. She will try to pick everything up out of "mom guilt" but you need her focusing all her attention on healing and fighting.