Saturday, November 10, 2012

Pregnancy cravings?


Remember Pregnancy Cravings?
They’re Back.

Odd, but true, if you’ve been through pregnancy with your wife, you’ve had preparation for some of the rigors and nuances of treatment for breast cancer, whether surgery, chemotherapy, hormone therapy, radiation therapy or a combination of all of these.  In Shirley’s case, following her first modified radical mastectomy, we had six months of chemotherapy and hormone therapy, then six weeks of daily radiation therapy, followed by another six months of chemotherapy.  It was a long year for both of us.  She was the one getting zapped, as she called it at the time, but we were experiencing treatment.

Shirley applied a lesson from pregnancy to her approach to chemotherapy.  When she was pregnant with our daughter, Alison, a friend told her that not all women have severe morning sickness.  That knowledge or suggestion led her to a pregnancy with relatively little or mild morning sickness.  Mind over matter?  The power of self-talk? 

Shirley understood in her soul that each of us is unique.  Each of us reacts in our own unique manner to chemotherapy.  One size does not fit all.  As a result, her experience with her very aggressive treatment regimen was relatively mild, at least when compared with horror stories about chemo.  She did have her moments, but understood she was getting closer each time to the end of treatment and staying alive.

The other parallel to pregnancy was food cravings.  I would often be asked to pick up Chocolate Chocolate Hagen-Dazs ice cream, or some other food or beverage she was craving.  This ran the gamut from pretzel sticks as a munchie to eating peppermint candy to get rid of the metallic taste left by her chemo treatment.  All of this, of course, meant that I was often the family shopper, picking up the groceries, a task long since reclaimed by Shirley.


Friday, November 9, 2012


Cook A Meal

Shirley has always been and remains a great cook, whether making a fancy meal or emptying the refrigerator of all leftovers for a delicious soup.  But now is the time to give her a break.  You prepare meals from start to finish: shopping, preparing, cooking, serving and especially cleaning up afterwards.  That means the whole job, so once again she saves her strength and energy for the important work at hand.

Men are supposed to be the world’s greatest chefs, so be one.  Bring out your creative and nurturing side, figuratively and literally.  Develop a new talent or build on an old one.  Are you out of practice because she’s such a good cook, now’s the time to plunge back in. Develop your talent.  Life is much more enjoyable being a Renaissance man, a multi-talented person using both your right and left brain.

And she may want simple things, as not all food appeals during the course of her chemotherapy treatment.  Bon appetit.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Sandy 3, Peter 0 - No New York Post


Help With Your Child or Children

Shirley and I have been blessed with one child, our daughter, Alison, who was three years old when we started Shirley’s treatment.  Dick Hollister, her oncologist, gave us a choice following her surgery: the option of having more children or aggressive treatment that might save Shirley’s life, a long shot at best, but a remote possibility.  Our joint decision, our opting for her life, took a nanosecond.

Raising Alison, being her mother, was Shirley’s passionate mission.  It was her reason for living and surviving, for beating her cancer.  Her only major regret or concern was whether she would live to see Alison grow up, become a woman, pursue her dreams, find love, marry, and, God willing, make her a grand-mother.  There is simply no joy comparable to being a parent, whether a mother or a father.  No happiness is greater than being with your child and experiencing their growth.

Shirley was an accomplished, talented elementary school teacher.  She might have sought full time employment, but cancer changed her course and our course.  She worked part-time instead in elementary school and early childhood education in order to enable her to be home for Alison.  She was for all intents and purposes a full-time Mom, the noblest and most difficult of career choices.  It was and is a difficult economic squeeze that allowed Shirley to live her passion and be a real Mom.  If you meet Alison today, you’ll know she made the right choice.

Your children need both of you.  Depending on their age, they may or may not really understand what is happening, or share your anxiety and fears.  They will know that something is amiss.  They need you both.  And she will need you to take over more and more as chemotherapy or radiation take their toll, making her tired and sick, taking away her energy and leaving her in need of rest.

She is a warrior doing battle.  To win ultimate victory, let her husband (what a marvelous word) her strength and resources.  She will do what she can.  She will want to be involved.  But you need to step in seamlessly when she needs down time.  Can you give a greater gift?

And our joyous update is that Shirley and I together walked Alison down the aisle on May 27, 1011 to wed the world’s ultimate romantic, a Renaissance man who gives her joy, love, and respect every day: Pete D’Alessandro. Alison today is a talented writer pursuing her dreams in Hollywood.



Sunday, October 28, 2012

No more mid-life bimbo


Let Her Know You’re There
for the Long Haul

Remove any fear of abandonment.  It has been reported that 7 of 10 husbands leave and divorce after their wife is diagnosed and treated for breast cancer.  Not very good for we men, however, the same rate of breakup is true for almost any trauma in a couple’s life, such as a child with severe disabilities.  If a marriage relationship is weak already, not well grounded, it can be torn asunder.  Conversely, a basically solid relationship will become better and richer getting through an adversity like this.

We as a culture are experiencing a 60% divorce rate with or without trauma as a precipitating “cause.”  We now read about young people having “starter marriages” as a prelude to or preparation for a “real” marriage.  Whatever happened to “in sickness and in health” or “until death us do part.”  Be a real man.  Love her.  Reassure her.  Remember the love and the friendship that brought you together.  Stay with her.  Grow with her. Let her complete you as she did before cancer struck.  Your wedding vows are sacred.  They are meant for a lifetime.

When the dust settles after this battle, a real man is still standing together with his soul mate, his lover, his bride, his partner for life, and, if so blessed, the mother of his children.


Tuesday, October 23, 2012

You will be glad you did this.


Go to Her Appointments

Go to the multitude of appointments with your wife, your partner, as much as you can, holding her hand literally and figuratively.  In 1982, I had the luxury of relative independence in my 24/7 position as the CEO of an innovative and unique community health education and wellness center.  I built my profes-sional and community calendar around Shirley’s treatment schedule.  I went with Shirley to virtually every physician visit, every chemotherapy appoint-ment.  I felt a bit guilty about sitting in the waiting room, not going into the exam room with her for the actual treatments.  Perhaps a bit of a wimp or squeamish, but I was with her in mind, body, and spirit every step of the way. If it were possible, I would have taken it for her, traded places with her.

It is not what you do when you accompany her to treatment, but rather the act itself that speaks volumes to her.  It also gives you some sense of empowerment.  You are more than a helpless spec-tator cursing the damned disease.  You have joined the battle.  You are helping wrest control from the cancer along with your wife, your family and friends, your treatment team, and all of the support system around you.

There is also a practical side.  Hearing a diagnosis of cancer overwhelms the senses.  Doctors try to help you understand, but their daily jargon, the language of medicine, might as well be classical Greek or Latin.  With two of you there, there are two sets of ears to hear what is said.  There are two mouths to ask questions.  This helps avoid the tendency to hear what you want to hear.  Being with her each time will reassure her, help her overcome, and make you feel good about yourself.  She’ll love you for it.







Go to Her Appointments

Go to the multitude of appointments with your wife, your partner, as much as you can, holding her hand literally and figuratively.  In 1982, I had the luxury of relative independence in my 24/7 position as the CEO of an innovative and unique community health education and wellness center.  I built my profes-sional and community calendar around Shirley’s treatment schedule.  I went with Shirley to virtually every physician visit, every chemotherapy appoint-ment.  I felt a bit guilty about sitting in the waiting room, not going into the exam room with her for the actual treatments.  Perhaps a bit of a wimp or squeamish, but I was with her in mind, body, and spirit every step of the way. If it were possible, I would have taken it for her, traded places with her.

It is not what you do when you accompany her to treatment, but rather the act itself that speaks volumes to her.  It also gives you some sense of empowerment.  You are more than a helpless spec-tator cursing the damned disease.  You have joined the battle.  You are helping wrest control from the cancer along with your wife, your family and friends, your treatment team, and all of the support system around you.

There is also a practical side.  Hearing a diagnosis of cancer overwhelms the senses.  Doctors try to help you understand, but their daily jargon, the language of medicine, might as well be classical Greek or Latin.  With two of you there, there are two sets of ears to hear what is said.  There are two mouths to ask questions.  This helps avoid the tendency to hear what you want to hear.  Being with her each time will reassure her, help her overcome, and make you feel good about yourself.  She’ll love you for it.










Go to Her Appointments

Go to the multitude of appointments with your wife, your partner, as much as you can, holding her hand literally and figuratively.  In 1982, I had the luxury of relative independence in my 24/7 position as the CEO of an innovative and unique community health education and wellness center.  I built my profes-sional and community calendar around Shirley’s treatment schedule.  I went with Shirley to virtually every physician visit, every chemotherapy appoint-ment.  I felt a bit guilty about sitting in the waiting room, not going into the exam room with her for the actual treatments.  Perhaps a bit of a wimp or squeamish, but I was with her in mind, body, and spirit every step of the way. If it were possible, I would have taken it for her, traded places with her.

It is not what you do when you accompany her to treatment, but rather the act itself that speaks volumes to her.  It also gives you some sense of empowerment.  You are more than a helpless spec-tator cursing the damned disease.  You have joined the battle.  You are helping wrest control from the cancer along with your wife, your family and friends, your treatment team, and all of the support system around you.

There is also a practical side.  Hearing a diagnosis of cancer overwhelms the senses.  Doctors try to help you understand, but their daily jargon, the language of medicine, might as well be classical Greek or Latin.  With two of you there, there are two sets of ears to hear what is said.  There are two mouths to ask questions.  This helps avoid the tendency to hear what you want to hear.  Being with her each time will reassure her, help her overcome, and make you feel good about yourself.  She’ll love you for it.





















Friday, October 19, 2012

Remains the case as we celebrated 36 years...


I Love You, Not Your Breasts

Despite our nation’s growing obesity, we are a breast and body image fixated society, from Betty Grable pinups in World War II, Marilyn Monroe and Jane Mansfield in the 1950’s and 1960’s to Salma Hayek and Pamela Anderson today.  Men talk about being “leg men” or “breast men” with bravado and sophomoric stupidity, as if large breasts or great legs has anything at all to do with being a woman, or a lifetime companion, or a long-term, intimate lover.

Now, don’t get me wrong.  I still like to look at and admire beautiful women from the gorgeous 76-year-old former model in a smoking cessation class in 1982 to the stars and women around me.  However, it is my bride, my lover, and my lifetime partner who is my sexual and sensual interest today.  Your bride, your lover, your partner needs to know that you love who she is, not what type of body she has or the size of her breasts. 

Shirley is as beautiful and sexy today as she was on our first date, if not more so.  Our love making then and today was not and is not hampered by her having one breast instead of two, or now none.  Rather, it enriches our intimacy.  When we make love, she completes me, makes me whole and alive.  God created a matching set that fits together nicely.  Your bride needs reassurance in the face of an assault on her femininity and sense of womanhood.  She needs to know by what you say and what you do that this set of circumstances is not the end of your sex life, but rather a new, sometimes frightening, and exciting sex life with heightened sensitivity and caring.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Not easy for a child of the 60's


Being There

Your partner, your wife to whom you have pledged a lifetime commitment, needs to know you are there.  She needs a feeling of security.  She wants to know that you meant what you said about being together in sickness and in health.  Women need, want, and deserve a feeling of security.  You are responsible for letting her know and feel that you’ll be with her today, tomorrow, and forever.

Here we are today, 36 years of marriage later.  It was less than easy, but has been steady, up hill, growing, maturing and becoming what God had intended, including being a loving, faithful husband.  That was foreign territory to a love child of the 60’s, but sweeter and sweeter as the years went by.  It was only through this long, often painful, process that I fully understood the meaning of marriage vows, the sacred nature of a marriage, and its importance as the cornerstone, the indispensable and fundamental foundation of civilization as we know it