Re “In Sickness and in Health” (April 7): As more and more American women come to suffer from breast cancer it is increasingly important for the media to cover it, and I appreciate your attempt to raise some of the difficult social issues surrounding it. I also appreciated your trying to accentuate the positive and to highlight loving, supportive men.
But by emphasizing the positive to the extent that you did, you didn’t really convey the need for support groups. One problem, as you acknowledged, is that no man is going to admit breasts are a crucially important part of his relationship with his significant other. But women realize this to be true in many cases.
It seemed all the women in your article, in spite of their supporting husbands, went through the painful, extended and expensive process of breast reconstruction. Do women for whom a relationship with a man is very important have reconstruction more often than other women? Statistics on this would be useful.
I know my roommate in the hospital when I had my mastectomy--a married woman with two grown sons--had opted for reconstruction because the three men in her life wanted her to have it. They did it out of love for her--they couldn’t imagine that she would be happy without a reconstruction--but I got the strong impression that the reconstruction was so painful and difficult that she would never have done it if she was single.
I would like to tell you of another source of great help.
My wife was diagnosed with breast cancer a year ago and we both went to the Wellness Community in Redondo Beach. She attended a group for newly diagnosed breast cancer women and I attended a support group for family members. We were both greatly helped by the group experience. These groups were led by qualified and caring leaders. There is no charge for participants.