MALE BREAST CANCER. IT’S REAL.
I never heard that slogan before I was diagnosed with male breast cancer because I had no reason to. Sure, I had female friends who battled cancer, and I knew a few guys with prostate cancer; my father and brother included. My first wife died of ovarian cancer before her 48th birthday. But what about this pink thing? Having had those experiences, do I qualify as a “real” man? How do I reconcile my own life with any of those incidents —including my own male breast cancer?
According to the American Cancer Society, “Real Men Wear Pink is a distinguished group of community leaders raising awareness and funds for the American Cancer Society's Making Strides Against Breast Cancer events in 2017. Participants will wear pink every day in October and compete to raise money through online fundraising and networking”.
But wait. I’m not a community leader. I don’t even belong to a political party. Or a church. And I’m not really that competitive. And as for distinguished? I don’t believe so.
But I am adamantly supportive of all cancer events that bring education, research money, camaraderie and hope to those of us unfortunate enough to have this disease.
For the record, I recently was a speaker at the Tucson “Real Men Wear Pink” kickoff event here in Tucson, and I’m participating in our local “Making Strides” day later this month with some entertainment. So I’m not questioning the sincerity of the “real men” operation.
Rather, I’m wondering about the subtle message underneath the slogan. And hoping that no man supporting the breast cancer cause is left out—despite their color preferences.
As a male breast cancer advocate and activist, I’ve met lots of guys who are truly surprised to find out that they could be diagnosed with breast cancer one day. But they are often eager to know more about the disease, and willing to help spread the word. I think these are very real men indeed.
Then there are the fellows who are the “in-betweens”; with no cancer in their own lives and no former involvement with the Pink movement for women. Lots of these guys are willing to spread awareness too, but are a little put off by the “pink pushing” of October.
Perhaps “Real Men SHARE Pink” might be a useful moniker for an all-inclusive program?
I have found that reminding both men and women that human breasts are virtually indistinguishable from each other until we reach puberty (somewhere around the age of 10-12) is useful. Come to think of it, as newborns, we all start out pink.
And so, I got to wondering if a “Real Women Wear Blue” campaign might be a good idea? Anything to share the news that both men and women have breasts and can get breast cancer can’t be a bad thing.
And so I am proposing a campaign to run concurrently in October 2018 to get the word out about the guys with breast cancer. We are few in number, so can you imagine how helpful it would be---on a world-wide level--if the women of the world “turned blue” for a few days?
“The breast of both worlds’, you might say.
So how about it ladies? Is anyone willing to partner with me to make it happen? We just need a few real women to step up to the plate. You’d be doing us a great service and helping your own cause at the same time.
In the meantime I’ve got my pink sunglasses, my walking shoes and my entertainment program that I’ll be donating to our local “REAL MEN WEAR PINK” event.
So, if “real” just means authentic, caring and compassionate; this event should be a piece of cake!
With pink frosting, naturally.