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Breast cancer doesn’t just impact women -- it affects everyone who loves them, especially their husbands. That’s the message in platinum-selling recording artist and Grammy award winner Martina McBride’s latest single, "I'm Gonna Love You Through It,” a ballad about a woman going through breast cancer, through the eyes of her husband.
The touching music video is interspersed with interviews with cancer survivors, including celebrities Sheryl Crow, Hoda Kotb Robin Roberts, as well as Katie Couric, whose husband died of colon cancer.
With lyrics like, “When you’re weak, I’ll be strong / When you let go, I’ll hold on / When you need to cry, I swear that I’ll be there to dry your eyes / When you feel lost and scared to death, like you can’t take one more breath / Just take my hand, together we can do this / I’m gonna love you through it,” the song taps into the idea that when a woman is diagnosed with breast cancer, her partner is touched as well.
Last year, a study published in Cancer, a journal of the American Cancer Society, highlighted just how difficult a breast cancer diagnosis can be for husbands. The study found that men whose wives have breast cancer face a 40 percent greater risk than others of being hospitalized for severe mood disorders, such as anxiety and depression.
According to the study’s lead researcher, Christoffer Johansen M.D., Ph.D., of the Institute of Cancer Epidemiology in Copenhagen, Denmark, loved ones of breast cancer patients are at risk of emotional health conditions, because of the overwhelming stress of the situation, along with a lack of emotional, social and economic support. That’s why he believes mental health screenings and emotional support programs for partners of those with breast cancer should be integrated into cancer treatment plans.
It’s a lot for both partners to bear, but there aren’t as many resources for the spouse, Marc Silver, author of Breast Cancer Husband, a first-person account and survival guide for men acting as caregivers to their wives, told iVillage last year. “One problem is that men by nature aren't compelled to seek out support,” he said.
Perhaps that’s part of the reason why men are more likely to leave when their wife is going through cancer. A 2009 study found that a woman is six times more likely to be separated or divorced soon after a cancer diagnosis than if a man in the relationship is the patient.
Though I really wanted to hate the song, which seemed like just another treacly “cancer sucks” message, I was surprisingly overcome with emotions while watching the video, which pays homage to all the caregivers in a survivor’s life, and shows just how crucial a strong support system can be to getting through treatment. Though I’ve thankfully never had to deal with a cancer diagnosis, but I have struggled with depression in my life and my husband’s support was tantamount to my recovery. While couples do vow, “in sickness and in health” when they say, “I do,” it’s not something we think we’ll have to deal with until we’re pushing 80 -- and a walker. Few of us really have to think about what that means, or find out just how difficult that promise is to keep. It can seem so much easier to just pull away. I don’t think spouses who stick around get enough credit -- and I’m glad McBride is showcasing husbands’ pivotal role in battling the disease.
As Robin Roberts put it in the video, “Somebody loved me through this, and I’m going love somebody else through it -- and that’s what we have to do for one another.”