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Thread: Wife Is Facing a Mastectomy...Relationship Advice Needed

  1. #1
    Lady By Choice Leslie Langford's Avatar
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    Wife Is Facing a Mastectomy...Relationship Advice Needed

    Hello, gurls?I am reaching out to you today for some relationship advice on how to deal with a situation that I am sure a number of others here have already encountered in the past. Input from the GG?s here would not only be appreciated as well, but indeed welcome.

    Back in November, my wife went for a regularly scheduled mammogram at which time an abnormality was discovered in one of her breasts. A biopsy (very painful!) was subsequently conducted which confirmed the initial suspicions and resulted in a cancer diagnosis. This devastating news was delivered exactly a week before Christmas?exquisite timing, to say the least. The initial diagnosis that was delivered over the phone (Covid-19, social distancing and all that) appeared to be relatively positive, all things considered. It was deemed to be a ?good cancer?, allegedly relatively easy to treat, the tumour itself was small, and a simple lumpectomy appeared to be all that would be necessary followed by some radiation treatment. We went with that initial optimism up until the actual in-person consultation with the attending surgeon, which I was not only permitted - but actually encouraged - to attend to provide the required moral support, as well ensure that we both heard the same version from the same source (I actually recorded the entire discussion on my mobile phone with the surgeon?s permission). Ironically, that consultation was scheduled for December 31?what better way to end an already miserable year and ring in the New Year?NOT!

    Long story short, upon examining the affected breast in person and with much additional prodding and poking, the surgeon determined that a more invasive procedure was now indicated, and that if my wife still wanted to go with a lumpectomy, it would leave her breast badly deformed. Not only that, given the position of the tumour and being so close to the surface, it became clear that she would also lose her nipple in the process. Based on that, the surgeon was now recommending a full mastectomy. He felt that this approach would be far less disfiguring in the long run, lend itself more readily to a future possible breast reconstruction, as well minimize the risk of any stray cancer cells being left behind using a less radical procedure.

    As long as I live, I will never forget the look of surprise, disbelief, and trepidation on my wife?s face when she heard that diagnosis. I have never seen her as vulnerable, exposed and shell-shocked, sitting there on the examining table wearing only a flimsy johnny-shirt and being expected to make a life-altering decision on the spot with no prior knowledge of what was about to come down. And here I was?ostensibly there to provide moral support for my wife but instead finding myself concurring with the surgeon?s recommendation based on pure logic, when having to make such a traumatic and emotionally-charged decision like that is probably one of the hardest things a woman will ever face.

    What right did I, as a man, have to add my $0.02 worth to the discussion even though in my heart I knew that the surgeon was correct in what he was recommending? That awful thought will haunt me forever as well. Fortunately, my wife was able to draw upon an incredible inner strength at that moment in accepting the surgeon?s more radical recommendation of her own volition and signed the required consent form, concluding ? quite correctly ? that given the available choices, she would rather lose a breast than compromise further her chances for surviving this cancer.

    The reason for me going into this level of detail is to provide some context around the question that I am about to ask, and it?s all about being in a DADT situation and how to navigate this new development within the framework of a decades-old marriage. My wife and I are both in our early 70?s now, and I would imagine that there are others here whom fate has placed into a similar position and who would be able to share their experiences and provide me with some badly-needed advice.

    It is no secret to any of us that much of the reason for ending up in a DADT situation with a wife or S/O is that on some level, our partners see our ?female? selves as either some sort of competitor for their love and attention i.e., the proverbial ?other woman?, or else that we are creating some sort of ?fantasy woman? for ourselves whose standards she cannot live up to and is therefore a repudiation of her own sexuality, sexual attractiveness, and innate femininity. Of course, much of a woman?s sense of self worth is tied into how she perceives herself as well as how she looks to others and her breasts are often a large part of that, which is also why losing one or both can be so devastating to her.

    So here we are. I am still a crossdresser and will always be. And like most others here, I am completely heterosexual, am strongly attracted to women, and my desire for ?dressing up? is a compartmentalized expression of my gender identity that I keep to myself while otherwise navigating the day-to-day world as a ?normal? man. Consequently, I keep it out of my wife?s face as much as possible for the reasons already stated above, and have always tried to be an exemplary husband, father, and grandfather. But with her already fragile innate sense of femininity, where does her losing a breast leave us now? Will she now become even more hard-core DADT, and will our marriage face even more challenges than before because of my crossdressing, especially since reconstructive surgery is off the table as far as she is concerned?

    That said, I am not so shallow that my wife?s attractiveness to me is centered largely on her appearance, including her breasts. My love for her goes well beyond that - DADT notwithstanding - and if anything, my love and respect for her has only increased seeing how incredibly she has handled this devastating news. I am not freaked out at the prospect of her losing a breast, and yet, how do I communicate this credibly when there is still this huge elephant in the room?

    Hopefully, some of what I have said here will resonate with others here who have been in similar situations, and I look forward to getting helpful feedback based on their own real-life experiences.

  2. #2
    Member MonicaPVD's Avatar
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    I can't imagine what the two of you are going through. However it seems to me that, due to the unprecedented nature of your wife's situation, you may want to hold off on any revelations about yourself until her situation is under control or at least has plateaued and stabilized. She needs 110% of you as she knows you, not some new, unexpected version of you. Best wishes.

  3. #3
    Super Moderator char GG's Avatar
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    Leslie,
    You are very kind and caring to even ask this question. Obviously you know how your wife will feel; a disfiguring surgery vs. spreading cancer is devastating. She will need your love and support even more in the coming months of recuperation. At this point, it seems that she should be the focal point, not CDing (which it sounds like you already know). She may be fragile, depressed, angry, and run through all the emotions on a daily basis for a while. Just try to be patient and kind.

    Unless she wants to talk about the "elephant in the room", it's probably not the best idea to bring it up.

  4. #4
    Senior Member michelleddg's Avatar
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    Sweet Leslie, I have no direct relevant experience to draw on but will be keeping your wife and yourself in my thoughts and have no doubt you two tremendously strong individuals will overcome this challenge. Hugs, Michelle

  5. #5
    There's that smile! CarlaWestin's Avatar
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    DADT or otherwise, your wife is your soulmate and your top priority.
    You both have this life altering challenge together.
    Your gender involvement is a personal endeavor and it can wait for the proper time.
    I've waited so long for this time. Makeup is so frustrating. Shaking hands and I look so old. This was a mistake.
    My new maid's outfit is cute. Sure fits tight.
    And then I step into the bedroom and in the mirror, I see a beautiful woman looking back at me.
    Smile, Honey! You look fabulous!

  6. #6
    Member Cassiek's Avatar
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    My $.02. Sounds like you guys did everything right all these years. You stayed together in good times and in bad for better or for worse in sickness and in health. Those words and actions mean a lot. I think you already know the answer. Be there for your loving wife. She has been there for you whether you realize it or not. Best of luck to both of you I?ll keep you in my thoughts.

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    sorry to hear this, i wish her the best of luck,,, I have no direct relevant experience to draw on. im trying to be negative but i would put your dressing in a box for awhile, you are in a DADT and your dressing may not make her feel like a whole woman, she maybe doing ok with it now but there will come a time when she will not do good with losing a breast

  8. #8
    Silver Member Sometimes Steffi's Avatar
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    I can only imagine how hard it is.

    However, I strongly suggest that you seek a second surgical opinion before surgery.
    Hi, I'm Steffi and I'm a crossdresser... And I accept and celebrate both sides of me. Or, maybe I'm gender fluid.

    Gender fluid (adj.) - Describes a person whose gender identity is not fixed. A person who is gender fluid may always feel like a mix of the two traditional genders, but may feel [more] like one gender some days, and [more like] another gender other days.

    Ref: https://www.lgbthealtheducation.org/wp-content/uploads/LGBT-Glossary_March2016.pdf

  9. #9
    Administrator Di's Avatar
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    Your post made me tear up ....you both are a very special couple.
    I do not have personal experience but experience with a friend.that found it much more difficult to shop for clothes, undergarments, and even bathing suits. Besides the trouble finding what she felt good in she also felt overwhelmed with sadness and anger and it was her idea to shop.
    Just trying to say her emotions and triggers might be all over the place .
    If she brings it up of course talk to her honestly but I would shelf it as much as you can and focus on your relationship together.
    I-will be thinking about you both.
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  10. #10
    Aspiring Member Sandi Beech's Avatar
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    Gee Leslie,

    I am so sorry. Your post made me tear up as well. I can not even imagine what she is going though, but everyone else seems to be in agreement that you might want to cut back on any CD activities. She is going to go through a pretty rough time physically and mentally, so you just need to be there for her. My wife had a lump which had to be checked out recently and I have never seen her so scared. We were lucky though as it was not a problem.

    I wish you both well and hope you get through this time of difficulty and have a speedy recovery.

    Sandi

  11. #11
    Accepting GG Dutchess's Avatar
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    Three of my very close friends of mine underwent this and are still alive today . As you go through this together your dressing will sort of naturally fall to the side for awhile . This is going to be so intense and your plate so full that NOTHING ( as you are finding out now ) is as important as getting her through this .

    None of my friends cared about losing the breast ( one lost both ) , they simply wanted to stay alive . Keep on doing what you are doing and be there for her 24/7 . Just because you dress does not make your concern for her any less credible , I assure you of that . She knowing you love her no matter what is the most important thing .
    Keep us updated , I think we will all be thinking of you two .
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  12. #12
    Lady By Choice Leslie Langford's Avatar
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    Thank you all for your replies so far. Just to clarify...of course, my wife's needs and well-being are of paramount importance right now and I will be putting my CDing on the back burner for now for the sake of our relationship ...even more than Covid-19 has already forced upon most of us here.

    What concerns me more specifically regarding my crossdressing is how our current DADT situation will be evolving going forward. I saw some signs of a softening in my wife's stance over this in the past couple of years. Will crossdressing now become a total no-fly-zone even once things normalize and she becomes used to (and accepting of) her new situation?

  13. #13
    Senior Member mbmeen12's Avatar
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    COUNSELING COUNSELING COUSELING right?

    But my first reaction is; I pray the surgery is successful!

    Second your wife will lose what is a woman's identity.. I would think that "IF" you wear forms around her you could trigger emotions.

    OR another thought when she is ready(proper counseling as mentioned) help her pic the forms, when she is ready to go to dinners and social events.

    God speed and prayers
    Escapism isn't necessarily bad, but is definitely unhealthy in the long term. While helpful in the short term, things will degrade over time. At some point, the escapee will have to face the issue. Things simply blowing over isn't really going to happen in many situations.

  14. #14
    Platinum Member Teresa's Avatar
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    Leslie,
    I'm so sorry to read your wife's diagnosis , as you say it couldn't have come at a worse time .

    I do feel you are putting yourself through the anguish for no reason , your CDing issues need to be set aside and don't feel guilty about them. Your wife needs your support and obvioulsy has it , having an input was possibly important to her , it's not a case of taking sides you love her enough to show the pain she will go through will be worth it as she will always have your support and love .

    When you get through this she may change , people sometimes reapraise their life , what is important and what isn't , your dressing need may be accepted and even enjoyed , I know a couple whose lives opened up after the traumas experienced .
    The real me , no going back.

  15. #15
    Aspiring Member Angela1954's Avatar
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    When our spouse, children, grandchildren etc. face life altering decisions we put our needs on hold and channel all our energy into supporting them.

  16. #16
    Senior Member GretchenM's Avatar
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    I am so sorry to hear about this development in the lives of you and your wife. As for experience, I am a survivor of prostate cancer, my wife recently had a hysterectomy because of cancer being found in the endometrial lining of her uterus and a little cancer in the upper vagina which still needs to be blasted with a little radiation - that cancer is not very serious but all cancer is serious.

    However, my wife has 3 sisters in their 60's and early 70's. The two younger sisters have each had breast cancer episodes - three times - due to recurrence. Both have had double mastectomies now. Both wish they had taken the double mastectomy route from the start rather than playing dice and hoping it wouldn't come back with a less invasive procedure. Of course, the path taken on your wife's affected breast is a decision she must make and with plenty of support and tender love from you. A lot of it depends on the exact type of breast cancer she has and whether it has a high or a low tendency to spread into whatever remaining breast tissue exists after treatment of the initial find. And that includes the other breast. I suspect my sisters-in-law would say. "Go for the max and be done with it." But their experience is with their form of cancer, their psyche, and their experience and your dear wife's form may be different and she may also be a different person than they are.

    As for your role, you are the leader of the support team and that has nothing to do with gender and everything to do with love. However, gender enters the picture in that it affects the type of support, understanding, and love you provide. Here is what I recommend for you.

    1. Search your most inner self. Is your love, desire, or need to crossdress derived from an inner female-like sense of self or does crossdressing generate female-like feelings only after you change your expression? If the latter, then I recommend keeping your dressing out of the equation as much as possible as that puts the focus on you and as your wife is not fully on board with that then don't add that to her problems. If the former then dig down deep into that underlying female-like sense of self to squeeze out as much of the empathy, sympathy, and compassion that is there and use that to guide you in doing what is best for your wife.

    2. You are going to have to sacrifice a lot of yourself during this time as you will be her husband, nurse, nutritionist, psychologist, and overall cheerleader. Disturbed sleep to insure she gets meds at the right time during the day, learning to fix good, healthy meals, complying with her request for you to sleep elsewhere if she says she needs complete freedom to move into comfortable positions to sleep. And a pile of other things to do. To do this well you will need to call upon that deeper set female-like behaviors that you may or may not have, depending on what you find about yourself in item 1. But even if you don't have a lot of that, your brain is plastic and can create those abilities if it sees a need for that to happen. Your brain can rewire itself accordingly and has been doing that all your life in ways you may not even be consciously aware of. If you are aware of it then that plasticity is your most important tool.

    3. Recovery takes a lot of time and a lot of shed tears for her and you. Cry with her. Don't wander off to cry by yourself. You need to call up the best of what masculinity you have and refuse to allow the more demanding and dominant traits of your masculinity call the shots. You must respond to her needs but also provide support and guidance in helping her to deal with her very personal issues and difficulties with what is happening to her. Recognize her thinking may not always be very rational because it is a highly emotional time for her and the less rational emotions will sometimes dominate her thinking. You need to bring her back to a more rational thinking - GENTLY.

    4. She undoubtedly has a good number of female friends and family. Converse with them when it comes to issues or techniques that you are not sure of how to handle. Allow them to be involved as much as possible without risking Covid exposure. Call upon yourself to recognize that gender is not binary and a male can create and apply female-like behavioral neural networks simply by learning to apply female-like thinking and emotions to a primarily male-like identity. Leslie, chances are that for you that shift will be much easier to make because you are obviously at least half way there already by virtue of the fact that dressing as female, irrespective of the reason and source, allows you to be receptive of those behaviors that your wife needs during this time. But you need to also provide her with the "strong male" aspect as well. The fact is, neuroscience has found that those two aspects that we tend to think are highly separate and linked to your sexuality have little to do with sexuality and everything to do with your sense of self in terms of gender behavior without regard to sexuality. This is a growing time for both the Leslie and for more male-like aspect that is a significant part of the total you. In short, be her girlfriend as well as be her husband. It is a tall order, but if you set aside any ideology about binary gender and all the burden that thinking creates, you will find that the total you is very versatile at blending both the male-like and female-like aspects of your identity in very effective ways that can provide support for her that may amaze her. This is a time when the two of you can grow by leaps and bounds. She can see what you are really capable of and she can also see that her husband is not exactly just a man, but is also capable of being a woman as well. Not because you are showing her that aspect, but rather you are using those tools to produce the love and support she needs without regard to gender but only with regard to love. Showing love produces more love.

  17. #17
    Super Moderator char GG's Avatar
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    What concerns me more specifically regarding my crossdressing is how our current DADT situation will be evolving going forward. I saw some signs of a softening in my wife's stance over this in the past couple of years. Will crossdressing now become a total no-fly-zone even once things normalize and she becomes used to (and accepting of) her new situation?
    This question, which now seems to be on a back burner, can only be answered by your wife. Any of us can speculate but we are all different. Considering the circumstances, it's probably not a good time to bring it up unless she does.

  18. #18
    Aspiring Member Star01's Avatar
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    Lesilie Langford, we have a lot in common, I am 69 and in a DADT and retired around each other 24/7 since March. As others have advised this is a time to concentrate on what your wife is going through and not crossdressing. I went through a situation in March where my wife was acting as the primary caregiver for her terminally I'll mother. I mentioned in another thread how my wife was staying there and coming home whenever she caught a break. I came very close to my wife walking in the door with me fully dressed and I'm glad that I hesitated or she'd have had to add that to everything else she was going through.

    Without knowing you and your wife or her world view as it applies to your dressing it's hard to predict a reaction. I would just be there for her and often when someone goes through a life changing health experience their views on things sometimes change and they don't worry so much about the little things. I hope that is how things go for you and your wife and I'm sorry that you're both having to go through this. Be strong and be there for her and let the crossdressing stuff sort itself out later when things settle down. All the best to both of you.

  19. #19
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    I am sorry to read about your wife's breast cancer. Next year we will be celebrating our fiftieth wedding anniversary. Without checking my records for the exact dates she under went breast cancer treatment. She had what is called Triple-Negative Breast cancer which is one of the most difficult breast cancers to treat. She discovered the lump during self examination and immediately schedule a mammogram which was followed up with a biopsy. She was referred to the best oncologist in our area. The chosen method of dealing with this diagnosis is to have all doctors who will be involved with the treatment meet to discuss new patients. That included the oncologist, surgeon and radiologist to discuss all aspects of the treatment. Based upon the medical evidence it was decided a lumpectomy was the course of action. The lump was near the surface. Yes, sometimes there is a difference between cancers; good and no so good. Basically, it refers to the ability to treat the cancer. Anyway, triple-negative is the worst type as there are limited options. Her surgeon is one of the best in our area. In discussing the options she indicated there is not too much difference in final outcome between a lumpectomy and a mastectomy. My wife made a choice to have a lumpectomy. I found my role was just to be supportive. Personally, I receive my medical care aside from where my wife gets her. Over the course of treatment I had chats with nurses and advance nurse practitioners concerning my wife medical treatment. All of them spontaneously said her treatment team was the best. My wife first went through chemotherapy to try to reduce the size of the tumor. The size was not responding to chemotherapy so further chemotherapy was aborted. She had the lumpectomy which was successful in that the lymph nodes were negative for the cancer spread. She underwent radiation therapy. She has had the routine follow ups which all have been negative. She is now down to annual follow ups. Of course, through the initial stages of diagnosis and treatment options she had to consider disfigurement. Her cancer was not near the nipple. My wife has some medical background and did some of her own research to arrive at going for the recommended lumpectomy. The big issue for her is whether the lymph nodes were already involved. I am not second guessing your wife's decision. My wife felt very comfortable with her treatment options being discussed by the entire treatment staff before recommending a course of action; oncologist, surgeon and radiologist. That board meets once a week to discuss new patients. I will note the three are not in the same practice.

    As to the DADT issue. My wife and I have been in a DADT forever. We had "The Talk" back circa 1983. She made it perfectly clear she did not want to have anything to do with it. I've made numerous comments on our relationship over the ten years I've been on this forum. I understand and accept her position. I have not tried to nudge her along. On occasion she has found some garment (bra or panty) I failed to put away. Or she has found this forum open when I failed to log off. No ranting and raving. Just a casual comment she found the garment and placed it out of site or to be more careful about the page being open, less a visitor see it. Frankly, when my wife was diagnosed with her cancer the issue of cross dressing never entered my mind. For the entire treatment (chemotherapy and radiation therapy) I "held her hand." She does not drive because of a depth perception problem. Keep her off the roads! She took off from her semi-retired part time full day jobs. Yes, no opportunity for Stephanie, other than to say Stephanie did show up. One of the issues I always read about on this forum is the allegation cross dressers are more sympathetic than "normal" males when it comes to compassion, etc. I do not buy into that therapy. I will say during my wife's multi-year treatment I did not feel Stephanie was not present. She was there but she did not need to femme up. The last thing on my mind was cross dressing. My mind was centered upon being totally supportive of my wife. My PTSD counselor has said many times my fault is I always put the needs of others before my own needs. I can live with that. My wife has had friends and has known of many husbands who could not deal with their wives medical issues. Basically, a bunch of wimps.
    Last edited by Stephanie47; 01-12-2021 at 02:25 AM. Reason: spelling/clarity

  20. #20
    Aspiring Member Territx's Avatar
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    Leslie -- there is wonderful advice being offered in this thread, in addition to the wonderful support. If you are like the rest of us, while they may not have been this intense, you and your wife have survived many challenges over the years and I have no doubt you will find a way through the hurdles posed by this event. Just remember that ever day is a new step and not all of those days will be "forward" -- but you can beat this together. Good luck.
    I am what I am and also what I am not!

  21. #21
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    Leslie,

    I know this is an incredibly hard to for you and your wife.

    My ex had her first diagnosis when she was in her 20s. There really wasn't much of a choice other than to have a biopsy. Fortunately it was benign. However; in the interim she was depressed and anxious and really needed my support. We were not dadt, he knew and accepted who I was. It never entered into the equation.

    Her Second lumpectomy was in her late 20s. Again it was benign and again she needed my love and support. You would think it would be a bit easier each time but for her it was exactly the same amount of terror as the first.

    The third time was when she was in her 30s, and we were divorced. Her husband, the man she left me for, was a person who had lost both parents, a sibling and niece to Cancer. He refused to help her. At her request I came out and provided emotional and physical support. Taking over with the kids and cooking and what not. Again it was benign. That was an especially hard to for her. Mostly because of the inability of her then husband to provide emotional support. It was a very difficult realization. They were still in the "honeymoon phase" and when the results came back as benign she didn't quite kick me out, but she made it very clear that it was time to leave and for her and her husband to rebuild their marriage. There is more, but it really does not help you.

    This last time it came back as cancer. When it came time to discuss options she asked me to help her make her decision. She said her husband had no way of knowing what she was going though. But that I would understand because I had lived life as a woman, and had at a time prior to this had implants and then had to remove them for family and professional reasons. I knew what it was like to lose a breast. It was not a casual decision.

    What I learned was that this is her battle...for the most part. It is her body, but at the same time it emotionally effects you and the rest of the family. What that means is that you have to focus, as Char said, on her and her struggles. As you are in a dadt lifestyle, I would firmly put that away from this discussion with her.

    Having said that I think you need to understand two things. The first is that you can not ignore your own pain in all of this while you go through this with your wife. Don't keep everything in. Get a support group or person you can talk to. Don't walk away from your cding, it is a part of you, and it probably reduces stress. Just keep it out of sight as always. Any support person who is helping to reduce the burden of a loved one, will often need their own support; as long as you don't make it about you and lose sight of her.

    Good luck!

  22. #22
    Gold Member Lana Mae's Avatar
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    Thoughts and prayers for both of you! CDing will take a backseat to caring/supporting your wife(mostly because you love her so much)!! Hugs Lana Mae
    Life is worth living!
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  23. #23
    Lady By Choice Leslie Langford's Avatar
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    Thank you all again for your on-going messages of support, as well as the sharing of your insights into the type of situation we currently find ourselves in based on your own personal experiences. Some of you have truly gone above and beyond in your empathetic, detailed and thought-provoking responses, not to mention your willingness to share often highly personal information as part of the solace that you have provided, and for that I am truly humbled and appreciative. Rest assured that some of these answers merit follow-up P.M.'s from me to further underscore my gratitude, and I will be sending these out in due course.

    That said, there has been some good news today despite the otherwise overwhelming darkness. My wife was contacted by her hospital today, and a firm date has been set for her surgery: Jan. 20, 2021. That's just a little over 2 weeks away, and now provides us with at least one bit of certainty that we can count on at this point amidst all the other unknowns that are yet to be resolved.
    Last edited by Leslie Langford; 01-05-2021 at 09:47 AM.

  24. #24
    Silver Member giuseppina's Avatar
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    I am saddened to hear of your wife's breast cancer diagnosis. This will be hard on both of you. I hope the surgery does not get postponed for any reason.

    As far as counselling goes, OHIP pays for eight 1-hour sessions annually with a licensed mental health provider (social worker, psychologist) upon referral by a physician, who should be pleased to provide same.
    Cheers
    Giuseppina

  25. #25
    Exploring NEPA now Cheryl T's Avatar
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    Leslie I'm very sorry to hear what your wife is going through.
    It is a very difficult time for her and for both of you. I can't begin to tell you how to handle all of these issues as they relate to each other. The only thing I can say is tell her your feelings as you have told us. Communication is something that must be done. Above all tell her how you feel about her and how her suffering affects you.
    As the saying goes ... a burden shared is half a burden.

    On a different note.
    My mom went through this when I was 9. She had chemo and radiation and eventually a radical mastectomy.
    It removed the cancer and she was free and clear and lived to see another 40 years of life. There is much hope in the future.
    Wear what makes you feel Confident !

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