Breast cancer from a husband’s perspective

When you first hear the news, ‘your heart stops.’

By Deborah Circelli                                  

On his first date with Lisa, Duane Friedlander said he could picture them together forever.

And when he said the words “for better or worse, in sickness and in health,” he had no idea that almost 20 years later he’d be by her side daily as she endured treatment for breast cancer.

When you hear the news, Friedlander said, “your heart stops.”

“You feel helpless and powerless,” he added. “All you can do is hold her hand and make sure she’s comfortable. If you go through it together, you can get through it.”

Having Duane by her side, and the support of her 14-year-old daughter and 26-year-old son, was imperative, Lisa Friedlander said. When you hear the diagnosis, “you are taken back and shocked. It’s not something you want to hear.

“Knowing I had Duane in my corner, made a huge difference,” she said. “God positioned us to weather the storm with each other and other people, which allowed me to concentrate on healing and taking care of myself.”

Traveling the road with others

Lisa, 52, was diagnosed at the Hill Breast Center at Baptist MD Anderson Cancer Center right before Thanksgiving 2015, after finding a lump from a self-breast exam. Under the guidance of medical oncologist Jessica Sullivan, DO, she went through six rounds of chemotherapy from December through March 31 at Baptist MD Anderson.

She also began a Herceptin infusion, which she will finish in December 2016. Herceptin is a medication designed to help block the growth and spread of certain types of cancer cells.

Duane said it helped to talk to other husbands at the infusion center as well as friends who have been through cancer treatment.

LaVeda Carter, RN, oncology patient navigator, was there for Lisa and Duane Friedlander.

LaVeda Carter, RN, oncology patient navigator, was there for Lisa and Duane Friedlander.

Lisa said her oncology patient navigator, LaVeda Carter, RN, was warm and helpful and always there to answer questions and guide them in the right direction.

Duane said Carter encouraged him “to take care of myself so I can stay strong for my wife.”

“Don’t try to be superman and try to take care of everything yourself,” he said.

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