If you’re anything like me, the diagnosis of breast cancer in a woman you love turned your life upside down. I found myself feeling angry, confused, powerless, lonely – and I sure got sick to death of making cups of tea for visitors and dealing with their bunches of flowers.
Occasionally, one of my wife’s friends would say to me: “And what about you? How are you bearing up?”. The best of them gave me chocolates. But mostly I felt irrelevant and lost.
I am fortunate that I have a good bunch of mates I can sound off to when I’m feeling down, but none of them has a partner who’s had breast cancer. It felt like no one really knew what it was like for me. Of course, there were such men. Chances are that you are one of them. And in the ensuing few years, it has occurred to me that it would have been great if I had been able to read about other blokes’ experience: how they felt, how they coped, what they learnt, what they needed.
All the time my wife Alison was in treatment, I was keenly aware that enormous resources are poured into supporting women with breast cancer, but their menfolk hover, confused, isolated and mostly forgotten in the wings.
I am putting together a book in which I will record the experiences of the men – mainly partners and husbands, but sons and fathers and brothers too perhaps – whose lives are affected by the breast cancer that has struck a woman in their lives. And I wonder if you might be just the man I need to help me.
I would like to sit down with you and talk about what it’s been like and then write up the interview. You would, of course, get to look over and approve what I had come up with before we published it. Telling your story could be immensely valuable for others – and for you too.
The book, published by the New Zealand Breast Cancer Foundation, will not be for sale: it will be made freely available to men who want it. And your story might be the one that really resonates for a man who is doing it hard right now.
If you think this sounds like you, click here to send me an email. I’d really love to hear from you.
Photos of Peter Calder and his wife Alison Jones, courtesy of NZ Herald/Dean Purcell