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Staring Down Cancer

The Man's Role in a Life With Cancer

Fraser Family

The Fraser Family: Woody, Mac, Madeline and Noreen (Courtesy of the Fraser Family)

I remember when my first child was born. The doctors didn’t even let you near your wife as she gave birth. We missed it all. But today it’s totally reversed. Now we do everything from sharing the pregnancy test, to Lamaze class, to helping your wife through the birth. Remember that one word you shouted a million times? “PUSH!” And that once in a lifetime experience – watching your child pop out.

Women’s Cancer has excluded us “men” from involvement. When Noreen was diagnosed with breast cancer, our house swirled with family and friends. Noreen is one of nine, five being sisters. Her parents, aunts, uncles, cousins – plus the siblings – crowded every room in our house. Add in Noreen’s friends. No room at the Fraser home for guess who? Right. Me, the husband, the “man” in her life.

That was almost 11 years ago. I have had to fight my way into her life of cancer, as you will with the woman in your life, too. I’m going to tell you some of what I have done, and you can use it in your own situation.

1. Understand that this is the most insidious disease a woman can experience. There is no cure. This sparks every conceivable reaction from your wife. As her man, you must seek help immediately as I did. The wellness center I attended gave me a million warnings, plus ways to understand and react.

2. Learn everything you can about her cancer. She will, very quickly on her own, find out everything about her specific cancer. By knowing as much as she does, you show her you care. And she will discuss more with you.

3. Make sure you go to every doctor’s appointment and meeting with her. No matter what she says – GO.

4. Counsel her about how to tell your kids and relate to them on a day-to-day basis. The medicines and treatments affect her outlook on her world, which is centered on her children. Her children and beating cancer are uppermost in her mind. We "men" have to accept it, but we can’t let it push us away. Force all children issues and become more involved with every layer of being a parent.

5. Depending on how rotten she feels physically and emotionally, keep your cool and stay involved no matter how mad she gets. If you think she is playing the “cancer card” with the kids – step in and let her know – “you can’t do this” and explain why. It’s tough, and she may hate you momentarily for “attacking” her, but as the love of her life, it's your responsibility.

In the end, she will respect you more. She may not love you more, 'you insensitive jerk,' but I'll settle for respect any day.

Men for Women Now is an important part of Noreen’s foundation. It was her idea – not mine. It clearly exhibits Noreen’s sensitivity to our relationship, and to me, as the man sharing this terrible time.

There is much more to be said regarding Men for Women Now. Consider what I have said here as a beginning.

Our women need us.

I love you Noreen.

For more information about the Noreen Fraser Foundation, go to NoreenFraserFoundation.org, “like” the foundation’s facebook page here, or follow the foundation’s Twitter account here.

Woody Fraser is the inspiration for Noreen’s Men for Women Now campaign.