You're a guy, and your loved one has just been diagnosed with breast cancer. She could be your wife, your mom, your sister, your daughter, your friend, your coworker. You are in shock. You can hardly breathe. You're scared, angry, panicked, all at the same time. What the heck are you going to do? It's time to call on your Starting 5.
Every successful team, in any sport, wins because they have the best players, and the best coach who provides them with the best strategy that beats the other side. You are the coach of your starting 5 principles that you are going to call upon to help her beat one of the greatest opponents of all - cancer - for life.
Here, now, are your Starting 5:
#1 - Listen.
You need to stop talking at her, or even with her, and just listen to her. Mirror her mood. If she wants to laugh, laugh with her. If she wants to cry and be afraid, comfort her and don't minimize her fear. If she's angry, validate that anger, and agree with her that this cancer thing really sucks. Watch for her emotions and follow them where they lead. But don't react to her emotions and cause conflict. Hear what she's worried about, what she is scared of, and what she needs from you. Only offer your opinion if, and when, she asks for it.
#2 - Follow, Don't Lead
Everything that happens with regard to her treatment is up to her, not you. She is Commander-in-Chief of everything when it comes to breast cancer. So it is vital that you follow, not lead what happens. If she wants to talk her time figuring out what she needs to do, then wait. It's her body, her decisions, and her time frame on how and what needs to be done; not yours.
#3 - Laugh
Laughter is the greatest healer of all. It is what is going to get her, and you, through the crazy times that she is going to face with her breast cancer treatment. The best thing that you can do for her is make her laugh.
When my brother-in-law David came to visit my wife Sharon, he did his childhood ''God'' imitation to get her to lighten up. Leaning into an upstairs air vent, he lowered his voice to a level rivaling James Earl Jones's Darth Vader: ''Sharon, this is God speaking. Make sure that you do not become a porn star after your operation by ordering breasts larger than your head.'' David turned every opportunity to talk with Sharon into a positive experience. He was truly her guardian angel.
#4 - Show your Love
Hold her, kiss her, hug her. Get her little gifts. And best of all, compliment her whenever you can. Make her feel good about herself, as a woman. Here's an idea of something you could do: Throw her a party, inviting all of her friends, for a F-U Cancer Party.
When my wife was diagnosed, we organized one. This party was our war cry, an opportunity for friends, family, and coworkers to rally behind Sharon and let her know that she had nothing to fear because she was going to whomp it!
To make things extra fun, we hired an Elvis Presley impersonator to serenade Sharon, as she is a huge Elvis fan. Also, if you can't be tacky at a time like this, when can you be? This Elvis, dressed in his Vegas best, was having so much fun that he was one of the last to leave the party. There was a huge cake with candles, for Sharon to make a wish that all would go well with her treatment. Over a hundred people came, many bringing gag gifts. Sharon loved all the attention and the gags, but every person is different.
Another friend wanted her F-U Cancer Party to be just her close friends, who brought a variety of pink presents and lots of hugs. Whatever works best for her is what's best to do.
#5 . Get support
The breast cancer war that she, and you are fighting, cannot be fought properly without the full support and participation of family and friends, fighting alongside her, with you in the trenches each step of the way. These special folks are the friends and family dedicated to her cause of conquering cancer. They are the few, the humble, "The Corps." There is so much more to fighting and beating breast cancer than just the medical battle. That's because the disease attacks the very core of your loved one's femininity. It calls into question all that it means to be a woman--physically, sexually, emotionally, and intellectually. It strategically bombards all relationships she has, and will have, with anyone and everyone in her life, as a wife, girlfriend, significant other, mother, daughter, sister, cousin, friend, coworker.
So she is going to need support, a ton of it, to meet all of her emotional and mental needs. So she is going to need her personal Corps.
But you, as her husband, son, brother, father, friend or coworker (who is fighting right there alongside her), are going to need your own personal "Corps" as well. This person is led by who I like to refer to as the Chief Dude Director, or CDD. He, or she, is your personal chief buddy - okay, best friend, who is willing to stand by you when you are down; it's someone who can drop everything to be by your side.