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Boys Do Cry

Men who’ve been through it agree – one of the toughest ordeals in life is to watch a woman they love suffer breast cancer.

As one man put it: “I hit the bottle to numb the pain and help me cope.”

Studies of men whose partner has breast cancer show the following:

? Almost 40 per cent of men had high levels of anxiety and depression;

? 40 per cent had nightmares and sleep disorders;

? More than 25 per cent experienced loss of appetite;

? More than 40 per cent reported their ability to work was temporarily adversely affected.

What men can do

The challenge for men whose partner or loved on has breast cancer is twofold.

The first is to acknowledge that unlike other challenges in life, breast cancer isn’t something men can “fix”.

Yet there are several practical actions men can take to make things better for themselves and family members.

One is to follow their instincts when it comes to becoming better informed about breast cancer, and seeking help with practical, day-to-day issues in families.

Perhaps more challengingly, men need to take actions that promote better emotional health for themselves and family members.

The National Breast Cancer Centre has set up dedicated resources to support friends, families and colleagues of those affected by breast cancer. Here are some practical things you can do to help make it easier for you which, in turn, will also make it easier for her.

? Don’t pretend its okay.

? Talking helps make it better, not worse.

? Truthfully acknowledge the impact this has on your life and relationship.

? Don’t maintain a stiff upper lip. You also need support and understanding.

? It’s okay to cry.

? Let her know your feelings and fears.

? Get information about the illness.

? Ask for help with practical things like picking up the kids, doing the shopping.

? Realise its still okay to have fun.

For more information visit www.breasthealth.com.au call the National Cancer Information Service on 131120 (for the cost of a local call, excluding mobiles.)