Breast cancer and boys

I read such an unusual and refreshing blog post the other day.  It was a guest post on Bringing up Goliath and written by a bloke.

Breast cancer tends to be an overwhelmingly female terrain, not surprising given that the disease predominantly affects women.  Therefore much of the Breast Cancer blogosphere is put up there by women.  I do follow some blogs which are written from a male perspective, and these tend to be from the husband or partner of a woman diagnosed with breast cancer.  And there are not many of these blogs.

This post, however, was written by the brother of the blog’s author.  And just to add an extra dimension, we learned that their mother had also been diagnosed with breast cancer a number of years earlier.  The post highlighted the very different experiences these were.  Yep – the same guy but two very different and harrowing experiences.

It really opened my eyes.  It made me think of how different the experience is for the different members of my family.  It went on to remind me how much pressure men and boys are to hide their emotions in many contexts, and just how much goes into suppressing and banishing feelings.

There is a certain young man in my life who has said that he finds my blog hard to read.  I could understand and respect that, much as I tried to encourage and persuade him to read my ramblings.  I better understand his reluctance now.  This post has brought a whole new realisation of the complexity of the different dynamics in a relationship and how this impacts on a cancer diagnosis.  And how much the cancer diagnosis has a variety of meanings and effects for the assorted people in our lives and at different times in our lives.

It also highlights the complexities of our various family and other relationships.  This really reflects the very different dynamic that tends to characterise the relationship between mother and son compared to that between brother and sister.  There is then a different pain and fear experienced and this leads to distinctive reactions and responses in the way that those close to us deal with this challenge.

I know that my eggshells rant was very introspective and self centred.  Thank you, Bringing Up Goliath, for the welcome reminder to me not to wallow in my self absorption and to consider the way that cancer has affected us all.

11 thoughts on “Breast cancer and boys

  1. Philippa, I think this is beautifully written. It’s true that breast cancer reaches beyond the person diagnosed and sometimes it’s hard to see that. I’m glad my brother’s post was able to shed some light on the feelings of the men in our lives and I thank you for writing about it.

    By the way, don’t think for an instant your “eggshells rant” was self centered. We all feel that way and you’re certainly entitled to write about it. There are many of us that want to read thoughts like that.


    • Thank you so much Stacey – and again I have to say how beautiful I found David’s post, and you can see how inspiring and thought provoking I find your blog. I am still in awe at how much the internet dimension has enriched this whole experience. Thanks for your support and it is great to share this across such a distance.
      Warm hugs

  2. It does stink to watch your loved ones from the outside, feeling clueless and of completely no use – for this bloke that all stopped when my sister began to blog. I can’t read all of the posts either and Stacey and I certainly don’t talk at the level that you all do – but it helps me stay up to date and has taught me a few things so I can feel that I am part of the supportive periphery, inside of which are all of you brave inspiring strong women.

    I hope that certain young man of yours can see that standing there on the sidelines of this extended interconnected blogosphere is pretty cool.

    • Thanks so much for your comment – and for your openness and honestly in your original post. I have been astounded at how much the blogosphere has brought at so many levels – I have made friends and connections, shared incredibly personal details and been inspired and humbled. You really helped me to see how hard I make it for the young man I talked about, by posting such detail in the public domain, and how much I filter when we talk/communicate personally! I’m sure he does indeed see that too.

      Thanks and I look forward to reading more from you on Stacey’s blog

      PS – I’m you must hear this all the time, but it made me smile to see David and Goliath in the same sentence, attributed (by WordPress) to your comment 🙂

  3. Thanks for another reminder about this. As a mom, I need to remember how much all this stuff has affected my children. I do wonder how hard it’s all been on them, especially for my two sons, since as you say, males often hesitate to show emotions. Cancer affects everyone in the family, that’s for sure. I also really appreciated the guest post in Bring Up Goliath. The brother’s take on everything was something special to read.

    • Thanks Nancy – yes and for me the dynamic of being a mother of adult children is such an interesting one as roles are reversed and mixed as they take on a caring role.

  4. I read the original post and thought it was wonderfully well written and enlightening. Thanks for this follow up post – it is so true that cancer affects everyone in our families, but often they don’t get the chance to let us know quite how much.

    • Thanks 🙂 Yes, I keep going back and re-reading it! It has prompted so much thought and reflection, and consideration of just how much those close to us have been affected, and how hard it is for them to share this when they are trying to be strong for us, as we are for them.

  5. I thought BUG’s post was enlightening as well. I feel that many men have such different ways of coping and I do struggle to understand them at times. I’m thinking mainly about the men in my family as I write this. I will say though my blog seems to have opened up the lines of communication between my beloved and I. We’ve always had a great relationship but I know there are some issues he has found very difficult to cope with. At least by reading the blog he’s able to better understand what’s on my mind and we’re able to have a (fairly) rational conversation about it. I know that my brother is also an avid reader, although he’s not a talker. Great post. By the way I LOVED your ‘eggshells” rant. Don’t ever apologize for writing what you feel.

    • Thanks Anna, yes they do have such different ways of coping and how much they suppress. The BUG post for me showed how much it differs depending on who it is who is diagnosed, and the relationship as well as when that happens. It is such a useful line of communication.

      Thanks so much for your support too about the eggshells rant – I was blown away by the wonderful discussion which ensued!

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