The feelings of last month's Men's Breakfast Meeting have lingered with me. I am in awe of the men's willingness to have been so very open and to hear and value others’ reflections on their experiences. We touched on “strength” and courage…this meeting experience is indeed a reflection of that. The spouses who are “veterans”, are very much aware that the emotional component is a process that has no specific time frame.. The gift they give to those first beginning this journey is invaluable. I thank you all for contributing…you are what makes this meeting meaningful!
Below are four emails I received following last month's meeting. We encourage you to attend a meeting; it will assist you in knowing how to best be available to your partner.
"I have been attending Men’s Support Group Meetings almost monthly for the past two years. Although, it is a club I would rather not be a member of, the experience has been invaluable in helping me and my wife cope (she regularly attends the Woman’s Group) with her illness. When I first attended, I gained tremendous insight from those who proceeded me in this journey. I found that I wasn’t alone and could count on the veterans for emotional and practical support. Examples of learning to listen to what my wife was trying to tell me to finding out that that tending to the drains wasn’t going to be as bad as I thought are two extreme examples of what I learned. Now that I am a “veteran”, I can pass along whatever wisdom I have gained to the new members who share the same fears and anxiety I had at the beginning and to some extent still have. Even now I gain comfort knowing I’m not alone. I would encourage new members to attend. The meetings are safe and confidential and the attendees know of what they speak as opposed to some advice you may get on the outside from well meaning but misinformed friends. Mollie is a caring and knowledgeable moderator and makes sure we have meaningful and informative discussions as well as bagels and donuts."
"Such a special session last time. Thank you for being our amazing rock and leader."
"i had originally attended the Men's Breakfast Meeting to show support to my wife; my motivation quickly changed after the first meeting. I have dramatically learned from the other spouses. Still attending, a year after my wife's diagnosis, I am acutely aware that I am a much better listener and that my wife and I are closer than at any other juncture of our relationship! Who knew that one could come to this place after a cancer diagnosis rocked our world. Thanks to the tools provided by this unique practice, we are not just surviving...but rather, as Mollie says...we are THRIVING!
"Thank you so much for having this forum where spouses can meet over coffee. I came to this Men's Breakfast Meeting with a heavy heart. I felt like I must go through this ordeal in a strong and stoic manner; that I cannot falter by showing too much emotion. After all, I am not the one getting the chemotherapy, MRI's etc,.. It's her.But listening to the other men who have gone through this episode, and are now doing fine, gave me hope that someday I will be like them: a healthy couple travelling wherever they wanted to go instead of being bedridden or worse.
I am sure everyone got something positive out of that meeting. Once again, thanks. Looking forward to the next meeting."