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Dude, Where’s My Wife?

Dude, Where’s My Wife?

Jeffrey Gannon and wife, Jennifer Merschdorf. CEO of Young Survival Coalition.
Jeffrey Gannon and wife, Jennifer Merschdorf. CEO of Young Survival Coalition.

The marketing world feels that it has guys figured out: Silly potty-humor movies, beer ads with scantily clad women, video games, bigger and better tools, you know what I am talking about.

There is no shortage of efforts to communicate with guys about the things they love: sports, cars, video games, you name it.  They even tell us about the stuff we don’t love: get your heart checked, have other private parts poked at that we don’t want to talk about, “just in case.”

But for many of us whose wives have been diagnosed with breast cancer, there is no column or fantasy football league to figure out what to do. Our loved ones are whisked off into surgeries, chemo sessions and we husbands are told what is happening, but are often left out in the waiting room with kids, parents and friends- feeling somewhat helpless, frightened or angry. Our world was turned upside down when my wife, Jennifer, was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 36.

And as many a husband or partner can attest, that initial diagnosis is just the beginning of a long journey, often changing their wife’s moods, appearance, and demeanor. We love our wives and help the best we can through these horrible experiences. But after a year or so, we look in the mirror and say, “Geez what happened to me? I look like hell.  I’m not the one with cancer.”

But cancer takes its toll on us as well.

No matter if you are the macho or sensitive type, husbands/boyfriends and partners are trained by society or instinct (or both) to standby, be strong and offer whatever help we can as our wives go through their battles with breast cancer. We can empathize, sympathize -- whatever you want to call it -- but we will never know exactly what she is going through. I mean, how could we?

And your friends only have so much time to hear about your situation.  We know they care, but the game is back on, it’s your turn to buy a round, throw the ball already. You know how guys are.

So where do we husbands/boyfriends and partners of survivors turn?  It’s a good question. I for one have not found an organized group of other guys who are “co-survivors,” but my wife has asked me to attend the 2015 YSC Survivor’s Summit in March, which will feature several sessions just for “co-survivors.” Full disclosure #1: my wife is the CEO of YSC.

Full disclosure #2: I thought Co-Survivor was a tribute group for the famous 80s band until I was told that it was a term for spouses, partners, loved ones and boyfriends of cancer survivors. Yikes, some education is definitely in order.

So I’ve decided to give it a shot and head down to Houston for the YSC Summit in March to check it out.  I know there will be several sessions dedicated to co-survivors. Hopefully, I will see some of you guys down there.  And during our down time, we can always go out and try to find some band playing “Eye of the Tiger,” and talk about our favorite college teams.