Guys like to fix stuff. We like to see how things are made and we like to take them apart and put them back together again. Sometimes we even put them back together and have none of the parts left over. But for the most part we are fixers. We fix stuff. When we can’t fix stuff we get angry, we tend to break other stuff when we can’t fix stuff. My wife tells me about a problem she is having and my immediate response to is to “fix it”. Her thought was for me to understand her pain or to empathize about why she is feeling the way she does and my first thought is “How can I fix it? I think I have a tool for that.” What happens when, as a Dad or a man, I can’t fix it? What happens in the instance of the unfixable? It boggles the mind just trying to think how I can’t take a screwdriver, a monkey wrench, and roll of duct tape and make it all better. My kids would tell you I can fix anything. That’s Dad’s job. I would tell you that I have a long way to go before I can fix everything but this year I found something that I couldn’t fix–breast cancer.
At least that is what I convinced myself it was when my wife had her checkup and it came back “abnormal”. My world stopped for a time. We get the heart wrenching stories from mothers, wives, sisters and our girlfriends, but as Dads, husbands, brothers and boyfriends, we rarely get to say what we feel. Let’s not even add into the fact that we men tend not to let those feelings come out, but add into it something we can’t fix, something that we don’t want to deal with and something we can’t understand and the problems seem exponentially higher.
This wasn’t the first time we deal with this problem of “abnormal”. Upon learning of my wife’s first pregnancy we did everything by the book. We were doing our due diligence including all the best medical care and tests and checkups. She had another abnormal test back then. We had the breast cancer scare then when two lumps were found in my wife’s breast that were later removed and found to be not of the cancer variety. It was a big weight off my shoulders not wondering how I was going to be a new dad and at the same time wondering how I was going to raise a child by myself. After all, it really was about me and my needs (enter eye-roll here).
This last month we had the same problem. A mammogram my wife had brought with it the news that the test was abnormal and that she needed to go through further tests. The doctors went about their daily jobs, the technicians were not as helpful as I had hoped and everyone seemed not phased in the least by the fact that my world was crashing down around me. Again, the thought there being, it is my universe. I continued with my manly facade as it related to my outsides but really my insides were in a panic and fear was twisting my guts inside out. Really, it is that fear of not knowing, not being in control, and not being able to fix something, that caused me the most anxiety. Daddy can fix anything.
Luckily the tests came back negative. It never happens as fast as you want and in the back of your mind you don’t actually want to know the results. Good news can’t come fast enough and bad news, well you never want that part of it, but it seems to linger over your head like a black cloud until it comes. If you are a woman reading this you may be thinking, “Wow that is kinda selfish, what was his wife feeling?” You are right. I thought about that constantly. I wanted to protect her, to be her Knight in shining armor and make it all go away. I wanted to be the hero. No matter how often I reached for the duct tape to fix it, there was nothing that could be done. I was supportive and I was as involved as I thought I could be without breaking down and crying myself. We guys we love to fix things and if you come to us with a problem we figure that you wouldn’t tell us unless you wanted us to do something proactive like–fix it.
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month as many of you know. You as Dads can talk to you partner about this and in fact you yourself may want to get checked out for breast cancer as we guys can get it too. This is predominantly a woman related issue but we Dads can be a part of the discussion. Become more aware of the feelings you are facing when dealing with the awareness of breast cancer. You can help by being more on top of the issues faced by the woman in your life by learning about breast cancer. Do the research and be prepared. You can leave the duct tape at home on that special shelf in the garage. I wonder if I can order that duct tape in pink?