My survivor has been battling metastatic breast cancer (MBC) for four and a half years. It took me a year to learn that I must take care of myself. Even if it is for 10 minutes or a few hours. I became so burned out in the first 6 months that I didn’t know what day it was without consulting a smartphone.
When it’s treatment week, I know that it’s going to be a battle with juggling work, kids, extracurricular activities, sleep, etc. The home front is usually the battlefield. The kids – my tiny soldiers – and I are fighting hard to keep our General in high spirits and “yes ma’ams” on point.
“It’s not selfish to take care of yourself.”
We hope that the pain, suffering, anguish, anxiety and stress can all melt into us from our loved one so she can get a decent night of rest and wake refreshed. We often forget that we are to “take care of yourself before assisting other passengers.” We forget how important that can be.
I knew there was no way I could be the only one feeling this way, and I started to research online to try and put a term to what my situation was: “unemployed boyfriend who care-takes his girlfriend and children.” I was shocked when the result came back “my boyfriend is unemployed and depressed.” This is where I first learned the term “co-survivor.”
I Am Co-surviving Cancer
I thought, yes! This is exactly what I am! I AM co-surviving cancer. I have the mental attributes without the physical ailments. I felt such relief in knowing I had a term for myself so I could narrow the search further to my age group.
After hitting social media and searching online, I found YSC. I discovered a wealth of information that pertained to just me. Eureka! Finally a group of people who know what I am dealing with. I reached out to a few people at first and found one common fact: It’s not selfish to take care of yourself.
I was truly surprised when Jean Rowe from YSC reached out to me after filling out a survey asking if I’d be interested in co-peer-leading a monthly Male Co-Survivor Virtual Hangout. Uh, yeah absolutely I want to talk with others like me! Oh, co-lead? It turns out that it is talking with others like me.
Wanted: A Few Good Men (who are co-survivors)
Since co-peer leading the YSC Male Co-Survivor Virtual Hangout with Barnaby Cook, this is something I definitely impress upon those who feel they’re struggling. The “grind” so to speak of facing the mortality of our loved one, making a home, raising children/grandchildren, the day to day activities that put us in “Autopilot” while not even realizing it. The YSC Male Co-Survivor Virtual Hangout has been such a great place to vent. And it’s also a place to meet others who are in similar situations.
Discussions have ranged in topic from how have the past few weeks have gone, sports, family, poker (which was discussed in length), cars, cigars, future YSC Summits, past Summits, camaraderie and friendship. I quite enjoy the topics that are brought out during these hangouts. Because it gives us all a chance to take our minds off the day to day.
I find other co-survivors are like a best friend you haven’t seen in such a long time. You can IMMEDIATELY pick up where you left off just like it was yesterday.
I believe that is what makes cancer a blessing and a curse. Cancer has made me grow closer to those in my life. I no longer hesitate to lend a hand or an ear if I know someone is having a hard time. It’s made me a better person. I no longer shy away. I jump in with both feet, especially when it comes to those who are in my shoes. My name is Ryan Cassidy, and I’m a breast cancer co-survivor.
YSC Virtual Hangout for Male Co-Survivors
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