“Suppressed emotions are a great predictor of disease,” says Dennis Buttimer, facilitator at Piedmont Cancer Wellness. Buttimer says men should understand suppressing their emotions for a long period of time can actually worsen their disease. Research shows letting out your emotions actually relaxes your physiology. “The body, instead of containing this tension, relaxes and that helps in the healing process,” he says.
“We get men to come to the Center primarily through their significant others,” says Buttimer. “Men are not necessarily joiners like women. Once we do get them in the door, it’s important to meet them where they are. They come in the door and are scared, but there’s that external veneer of ‘I can handle this; I’m just here for some information.’ We know a lot of that is an illusion and they are really feeling pretty threatened, so we work to build trust with them.”
Offering Support Through Specialized Programs
Men are welcome to attend all of the programs at Cancer Wellness, except the women’s group. The Center even offers programs especially for men, such as the Men’s Support Group and Men’s Yoga. “Yoga is interesting because it’s really about teaching men to connect with their bodies,” he says. “Research points to the idea that as you work with your body in yoga, you’re really addressing a lot of things in the core of your body.”
Buttimer says many men initially see the yoga class as a form of exercise, but later see it as meditative and a way to work on aspects of their personalities. “Men typically don’t run in any door for counseling,” says Buttimer. “However, once it gets painful enough, they can then understand that it’s really important to just let it out.”