This month, we here at the Gulf States Young Breast Cancer Survivor Network want to acknowledge the people who love, support and take care of the women we are trying to help. Breast cancer doesn’t just take its toll on the young woman, it also can exact a heavy price on those around her. As Marc Heyison, founder of “Men Against Breast Cancer” says “Breast cancer devastates the entire family.” So here are some tips and resources for men, family members and caretakers helping young women fight breast cancer.
First, take care of yourselves. November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month and everyone should know that tobacco is the single biggest factor in death and disease, bar none. So please don’t turn to tobacco if things get tough, and if you are already using tobacco, please try to quit. You are needed by that woman if your life. It’s also well-documented that smoking delays surgical healing, and some research is showing that breast cancer patients may be more vulnerable to a secondary cancer, so avoiding tobacco, a well-known cause of many cancers, is essential.
We also want to remind all caretakers that it’s important that they be up-to-date on all vaccinations, including flu shots. Breast cancer survivors often have compromised immune systems, making them more vulnerable to illness, while not necessarily being able to get shots themselves. So do it for them!
November is also “Movember,” a month dedicated to men’s health issues, so we ask all the men in these young woman’s lives to be aware of the cancer risks they face, to take steps to ensure their own health, and also be aware of their own mental health needs. Men often suffer in silence, which leads to high suicide rates and other mental health issues, so please make sure men get emotional support as well.
Finally, please look over our website, as we have lots of advice and videos to help you support young women, understand relationships and more. As Heyison says, men (or other caretakers) can’t solve or fix breast cancer. “The most important thing,” he says, “is being there.”
To see Marc Heyison’s talk, go to http://www.surviveal.org/expert-videos/2016/11/2/friends-families-partners-in-survival-marc-heyison-ybcs-workshop-2016. To hear him answer questions, go to http://www.surviveal.org/expert-videos/2016/11/2/heyisons-interview-men-against-breast-cancer-ybcs-workshop-2016. And if you’d like to learn more about Men Against Breast Cancer, go to www.menagainstbreastcancer.org. You can also email them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Laura Ricks, Communications Manager