Wildwood resident Ben DuMont was named the Co-Survivor of the Year at the annual Susan G. Komen Leadership Conference in Dallas on June 21. Each year, the Komen Organization recognizes one individual who has helped a loved one dealing with breast cancer and who has made a lasting impact on others.
Ben’s wife Bridget was 30 years old and the mother of two young boys ages 1 and 3 when she was diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer in 2007. Bridget credits her husband and co-survivor Ben with getting her through her breast cancer journey and beyond. Ben was not only her primary caregiver, but also her biggest cheerleader and constant support system.
“I do not know that I have the words to do justice to how amazing my husband is and how much strength he gave me to maintain not only my quality of life during and after treatments, but also to help me come out stronger and more full of life in the end,” says Bridget. “Besides taking care of any and all of our family’s needs, Ben did not let my sickness bring our family down. He constantly lifted me up and helped me to look at breast cancer as a blessing rather than a curse.”
Ben hosted multiple parties to support his wife, including a “head shaving” party at Bridget’s salon and a surprise “Ta-Ta to Your Ta-Tas” party before her mastectomy. He invited her family and friends from across the country to attend, making these experiences less traumatic for Bridget.
As Bridget was nearing the end of her treatments, Ben decided to take on a feat that only a handful of people have done: to ride the Katy Trail, 225 miles across Missouri, in one day on his bike to raise money for Bridget’s Komen St. Louis Race for the Cure team. On June 9, 2008, he successfully completed this challenge – in the rain the entire day!
“With grace and gratitude, Ben dealt with the fact that our lives were no longer our own during the 18 months of my treatment,” says Bridget. “Ben truly lived the words he spoke to me on our wedding day, to honor and love me ‘in sickness and in health.'”
Ben also has been a resource for many husbands whose wives are battling breast cancer. He meets these men for lunch, talking about what it is like to have a wife going through breast cancer and listening to what they are going through. It was also during these meetings that Ben realized there were very few resources available for husbands, so he decided to write a book about his experience as a husband and caregiver. The book, titled Pathway to Peace, provides a realistic picture of what it means to be a caregiver and, once it is published, will likely be a valuable tool for breast cancer patients and their husbands.
Congratulations, Ben, on this well-deserved recognition as Komen’s Co-Survivor of the Year!