Of all the essays I’ve written about cancer and its challenges, I’ve never started with a plea for help. But as a man with an “orphan disease” (meaning it is underfunded, rare and little-understood) I want to find my footing on this rickety road, and I would like to help others who follow in these footsteps.
My world and my work have been forever altered by my diagnosis, mastectomy and the myriad issues that are destined to be with me for the rest of my life. With regard to my chosen vocation, I’ve worked as a public speaker for 40 years. Finding cancer in my breast has inspired me with a new theme to talk about as a breast cancer survivor, and I’m fully dedicated to sharing my experiences with anyone who cares to listen.
But here’s the dilemma: Most breast cancer survivors and the people I speak to are women, and so I feel that I’m starting out on the wrong foot.
What would women like to hear from a man who shares their cancer? Can a guy offer anything in the way of advice, comfort, inspiration, hope or support? Are women receptive to a male interpretation and perspective on breast cancer?
I believe that for many women, it’s no easy task to get your husbands and sons to talk about your breast cancer, let alone how they really feel about it. So when I visit women’s breast cancer conventions or meetings, I always wonder what I can share as a man that might be helpful.
The solution, at least to me, seems simple. Ask the experts. I’m not talking about oncologists, medical doctors and the like, many of whom do wonderful things for us, but I’m speaking of those with firsthand experience, the people who truly know breast cancer from the inside out.
So ladies, I really need your help.
We know that men and women have breasts, all of which are capable of harboring cancer. We know that I as a man can feel the same kind of fear and anxiety as you do as we endeavor to survive, and that we feel similarly about the threat of dying and the impact our illness will have on our families.
We know that just like women, men are confused by the multitude of treatments, drugs, tests and procedures that confront us. I know from personal experience that we men are far less likely to openly discuss our concerns, our fears, our needs and even the fact that we have (or had) breasts.
And so again, women survivors, I’m asking for your help.
Please answer just four questions to set me straight. Your input will make a world of difference in my ability to be of service to our cancer community.
1. Do the men/boys in your life talk to you about your breast cancer? What aren't they asking?
2. What can a male breast cancer survivor offer you in the way of hope, encouragement or support?
3. Do you resonate with the idea of adding laughter and humor to your cancer for health and healing?
4. What do you most need to hear from your husband, boyfriend, son or male partner as you move through your cancer experience?
You can respond right here in our comments area or drop me an email at : Khevin@BreastCancerSpeaker.com
I’ll follow up with a blog summary of all the information I receive and I won't use names.
My deepest gratitude to all of my breast cancer survivor sisters!