They Stare Because They Care: The Manly Role in a World With Breast Cancer

Breast cancer has always been woman-oriented. Why wouldn’t it be? Breast cancer is found in boobs…and who has boobs? That’s right, women. As women our breasts are a sign of our femininity and so, very appropriately, the breast cancer cause is focused on woman power, everything pink, bras, and boobs in general. Our races are filled with pink, tutus, ribbons, and girl-power songs like Katy Perry’s “ROAR.” But what about men? What is their role in this stereotypically female disease? The truth is that without men the fight against breast cancer would not be as powerful as it is now.

Men are SO crucial in the fight against breast cancer. Every woman with breast cancer has either a husband, father, grandfather, son, nephew, grandson, boyfriend, co-worker, or friend standing behind them and supporting them. With 1 out of every 8 women being diagnosed with breast cancer at some point in their lifetime, most men have been attached directly or indirectly to the terrible disease in some way. An estimated 36% of our Race for the Cure participants are men, and many of them are completely decked out in pink, bras, and tutus showing their support for Komen. One of my favorite things to do at the Race for the Cure is to read men’s “In memory of” or “In celebration of” signs on their backs to see the women in their life they are running for. I’m sure that each of those men played vital roles in those women’s battles or are still currently helping someone they love through breast cancer. So many women say that without their husband’s support they never would have been able to get through their disease.

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In addition to our wonderful race participants, so many of our biggest supporters here at Komen Central Florida are men. Last night the Orlando Sentinel hosted their annual “Pink Bash,” where we were able to recognize some of our top male supporters. We call these wonderful men the “Pink Tie Guys,” and we loved publicly recognizing their efforts and presenting them with….what else but a pink tie! The Pink Tie Guys attest to the powerful fact that breast cancer is a disease that knows no boundaries and they help bring a male voice of urgency to helping find a cure. They all have different connections with the cause, and some of them just contribute out of the kindness of their heart even though they have not been affected by the disease personally. Here is just a very quick glimpse at the 2013 Pink Tie Guys:

Dean Smith: Aside from his duties as Chief Officer at the Orlando Fire Department, he also proudly serves as Executive Director for an organization called Unity in Uniform, who annually hosts the “4th Alarm Fashion Show” that benefits Komen Central Florida. (This year’s show is THIS Saturday at Wyndham on I-Drive…for more information and tickets please visit http://www.unityinuniform.org)

Kawika Mitchell: As a Superbowl-winning NFL player for the New York Giants he wore his pink gear proudly every October for Breast Cancer Awareness. Now he is back in his hometown as the owner of Competitor Gym, the official “healthy lifestyle sponsor” of our Race for the Cure.

Terry Rooney: This UCF Baseball Coach has a passion for breast cancer because his sister and mother are both survivors. His team proudly wears pink every October and he is a wonderful supporter of fundraising and awareness for the cause.

Pat Williams: This Pink Tie Guy is very special because he is also a cancer survivor. He is a motivational speaker and was named on of the 50 most influential people in NBA history. He also is the founder and Senior Vice President of the Orlando Magic, who will be hosting their Pink in the Paint event this Sunday!

Bob Lipscomb: As we moved into our new Oviedo Mall location we struggled with remodeling the space without breaking our bank. Out of the simple kindness of his heart Bob and his team at Williams Company Southeast made our space perfect for us with no cost to Komen. When we asked him why he did this for us he replied that it was simply who their company wanted to be.

Jason Siegel: As the managing partner and President of the Orlando Solar Bears hockey team he has gotten the team very involved in many charities, including Komen. One of the first things he did as the team started up was have a meeting with us about how he and his team could help out.

Roger Dollar: Without this man our very popular tutu promotional wouldn’t be possible. As the owner of trademark Press, he helps our affiliate out with printing the mass quantities of all the collateral you’ve seen. He believes in our mission and is always the first to help out. Without him, we wouldn’t get our life-saving messages out!

So there you have it, our amazing Pink Tie Guys for 2013. Hopefully their hard work will inspire other men to get involved, because, as we know, REAL men wear pink 🙂

Although it is wonderful to recognize men as amazing supporters of the women in their lives struggling with breast cancer and as great advocates for the cause as a whole, the most important thing to remember is that men can also be victims of the disease. As I mentioned in my previous blog post, male education is my main reason for being involved with the fight against breast cancer. Men don’t even think of themselves as having breasts, but their chests still contain tissue which can contract breast cancer. Although it is more rare for men to have breast cancer than women, in the US about 2,000 men are diagnosed and 400 men will die of breast cancer every year. Unfortunately men are not always educated enough about breast cancer because they think it is a “woman’s disease.” If you as a man notice any signs of breast cancer don’t be too proud or embarrassed to get help immediately! My grandfather was not less of a man because he had breast cancer and you won’t be either if you get it! Talk to your doctor, because early diagnosis is the best way to overcome the disease. Women, educate the men in your life about their risks and how to check themselves. Awareness is key!

Remember guys, “Save a life, grope your wife!”

Have a great day everyone!
-Victoria