It’s Not About the Wings

By David Tartaglia

David’s wife was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2010. In 2016, David began attending our “Wing Nite” program, a get together for men whose lives have been affected by a spouse or partner going through breast, ovarian or gynecological cancer. David very much enjoys the program. He is eager to share his experiences and to encourage other men to give Wing Nite a try.

If you are a guy, and your spouse or partner has been diagnosed with breast and/or ovarian cancer, I want to share my thoughts on what you stand to gain from attending Support Connection’s “Wing Nite”….. a men-only, support-type get together.

We currently meet several times a year at a local restaurant, most recently at Travelers Rest in Ossining. We used to meet at a restaurant that served wings: hence the name “Wing Nite.” We still call it Wing Nite, and the purpose is the same. And… you get a free meal on Support Connection.

I started thinking about what I could share from my experience attending the Wing Nites, what I wanted to say and how to say it, and make it sound so profound that hundreds of guys would want to attend and, and …….. then I stopped myself.

Encourage guys to attend something that might help them, when most of us guys feel we can handle everything on our own???? We don’t “need” support. We’re supposed to have all the answers. Our job is to take care of our spouses and our families. We will take care of everything.

Heck, my wife kept after me for months until I finally agreed to attend one night. And even after I did attend, I didn’t think I wanted to go back.

But I did, and I’ve been going ever since.

There is something very comforting about hanging with guys who unfortunately have one thing in common: we have all lived through, supported our spouses through, and continue to deal with the aftermath of, treatment for breast and/or ovarian cancer. This includes dealing with surgeries and other treatments, in some cases coping with recurrences, and unfortunately for some, losing their spouse to the disease.

Getting back to the word “support”: I decided to look up the definition to gain a better understanding of what it really means. I also consulted a Thesaurus to find similar words that might provide us all with a fresh perspective.

Support: To help someone and be kind to them when they are having a difficult time. This definition definitely captures the value of attending Wing Nite. Being with a group of guys with similar circumstances, who might be having a difficult time, is helpful. And of course the amount of knowledge to be shared is priceless. Everyone I’ve met is beyond kind – none of us wants to see others go through what we have endured, and we all care enough to want to be a resource in any way we can.

I think support is not as much about us and what we get. I think it’s about being able to give and provide support to our spouses. Our Wing Nites are the opportunity to learn how to best provide that support.

And now for the Thesaurus:

When you attend a Wing Nite you will learn how to man up (to start being brave and dealing with a difficult situation) and how to deal with (to take action to do something, especially to solve a problem) your spouse’s diagnosis.

You might find yourself better able to face it (to accept that a bad situation exists and try to deal with it), address it (to try to deal with a problem or question; for example, by thinking carefully about it, or by doing things to improve a situation), and help your spouse handle (to take action in order to deal with a difficult situation) this situation that you and she could never have been prepared to handle.

I found a paragraph in a WebMD article which I feel sums up the challenges men face, and how Support Connection’s “Wing Nite” for guys can help men meet those challenges:

“When a woman is diagnosed with breast cancer, it can blindside the men who love her – husbands, boyfriends, fathers, sons. It’s not just a ‘woman’s issue,’ say the men who’ve been affected. But many of them know little about the disease itself and find themselves at a loss as to how to help the women they love cope emotionally (much less cope themselves).”

Come join us for one of our “Wing Nites” and enjoy some good food (no wings!) Hang out with guys who know what it’s like, are willing to share their knowledge and experience, and will listen if you feel like sharing you and your spouse’s story (sharing is not mandatory.)

Sometimes it’s enough to just be in the company of men.

Maybe you’ll leave with the feeling of being able to better face and deal with your wife’s or partner’s disease. We all know it’s not easy to man up and address our situations, but we do know that by coming together we learn from and support each other.

To find out the date of our next Wing Nite, or to learn more or register, call Support Connection at 914-962-6402 or 800-532-4290. Or, send us an email.

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