Chances are you've already seen plenty of pink this October as survivors and friends honor breast cancer awareness month. Breast cancer will effect one out of every eight American women in their life time, but those diagnosed with cancer aren't the only one's in for a fight.
Even though it's been seven long years, Doug and Patty Barthel remember the phone call that changed their lives forever.
"He just said it's not good news." Said Patty Barthel.
A cancerous tumor had been found in Patty's breast.
"The news is devastating and I think when we initially hear that cancer word, we think of it as a death sentence, she's living proof that it isn't." Said Doug Barthel.
The Barthel's chose to face the cancer head on and aggressively fight back.
"I ended up choosing a bilateral mastectomy instead of a lumpectomy because of my mom's history, I then proceeded with reconstruction and I had 4 months of chemotherapy." Said Patty Barthel.
While Patty was the one with cancer, the disease also took a toll on Doug and their two children.
"It's certainly a trying time, I think it's easy to want to give up and not want to fight it at first." Said Doug Barthel.
"You don't want to see them fall apart in front of you, so they need someone to talk to, to understand what's happening and the changes you yourself are going through with body image and stuff, they need to relay that you're still beautiful." Said Patty Barthel.
Doug says the diagnosis is tough to swallow, but it's an opportunity to rise to the challenge.
"That's where I think as husbands, fathers, or friends that's where you need to come in and give those words of encouragement and assure them yes you can fight this, yes you can get through it." Said Doug Barthel.
Breast cancer claims more than 230,000 new victims each year, but like Doug and Patty, also impacts the men in their lives. To help those survivors and partners the Avera Cancer Institute is hosting the "Partners in Survival Workshop." This free clinic is put on by men against breast cancer and is designed to help coach couples as they travel down this new unfamiliar path.
"Men are doers and want to take away a woman's pain and sometimes a woman just needs to be with them and listen because this isn't something they can fix but they can help by listening and accompanying them through it." Said Lynne Hunter, an Avera Oncology and Hematology social worker.
Education is power and the Barthel's says anything you can do to get out in front of cancer is a step in the right direction. While Patty has been cancer free for almost seven years, she continues the fight with her husband right by her side.
"He's basically my rock, I leaned on him for a lot of emotional support and spiritual too." Said Patty Barthel.
"With each day things start getting better, you get through that treatment and frankly get yourself on a road to recovery, I mean here we are seven years later." Said Doug Barthel.
The Partners in Survival Workshop is open to any female cancer survivors and their male caregivers. The workshop will be held on October 11th at the Avera Prairie Center from 6pm-8pm. To register call 1-866-282-8372.
For more information just call 877-AT-AVERA