The Male Breast Cancer Coalition (MBCC) is doing great work to create awareness and support for male breast cancer survivors around the world.
Where MBCC started?
Eight years ago, Cheri Ambrose had a close male friend diagnosed with breast cancer. He underwent a bi-lateral mastectomy, and went from a vibrant, outgoing man to a shell of himself. Cheri couldn’t believe he was the only one, so she took her mission to Facebook, where she connected with Peggy Eddy Miller.
Peggy’s son, Bret, found a lump in his breast at the age of 17. For seven years, Bret was told by his doctors that he was just ‘becoming a man’ and not to worry. At age 24, he was diagnosed with breast cancer. He underwent a mastectomy, and became a passionate and effective advocate, and started the Bret Miller 1T Foundation.
In 2013, determined that no man would ever have to face a breast cancer diagnosis alone again, Cheri and Bret launched MBCC as a virtual gathering place for men with breast cancer. It was to be a source of information and guidance for navigating the often difficult journey of a male breast cancer diagnosis.
They began to connect with other male survivors, and started documenting their stories. Men from all walks of life, who had been harbouring this secret, told unbelievable tales of pink hospital gowns and humiliating experiences in women’s mammography centres. MBCC’s co-founders soon came to understand that these men – hundreds of them, ranging in age from 17 to 70 – were all suffering in silence.
Tiny blue island in a sea of pink
One of these men, Michael Kovarik, was diagnosed in 2007 and is currently living with Stage IV metastatic breast cancer. “The doctor’s words hung above me in the air as I struggled to accept the concept of a man getting breast cancer,” he says. “Inside my head, numerous thoughts throbbed erratically, breast cancer? But, I’m a man? Years after my treatment, I still harboured a sense of being alone. I had yet to hear about or meet another man with breast cancer. I was this tiny blue island in a sea of pink. And then in 2014, I received an email inviting me to connect with MBCC. As I read the numerous, personal stories of male breast cancer survivors, I no longer felt alone.”
Connecting male breast cancer patients across the globe
Within a year, MBCC had more than 40 male breast cancer survivors contribute their stories. These survivors want to help ease the journey of other men diagnosed with breast cancer, be a source of comfort for families and caregivers, and provide the information needed to make the best decisions regarding care and treatment.
Six years later, that number has surpassed 500, an extraordinary number of male breast cancer survivors not only from USA, but UK, Australia, Netherlands, Wales, Japan, South Africa, Czech Republic, and Bangladesh. And, the list keeps growing.
Today, MBCC has become renowned for providing male breast cancer survivors with a place where they can talk freely and openly and share their experiences with one another, and collaborate with women and men around the world who are also working to educate others.
This dedicated, passionate band of men are assisting MBCC with advocacy work and furthering the male breast cancer awareness campaign. They have been key to building MBCC into a singularly unique global network of survivors and do-gooders. Trailblazers, really, who have pushed and succeeded in their quest to secure a presence at some of the most important global breast cancer conferences, and who have been instrumental in getting men included in six clinical breast cancer trials so far.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]
MEET OUR EXPERT – Kathi Wolder
Kathi Edelson Wolder is a two-time breast cancer survivor and President of Edelson Communications. She donates an exceptional amount of pro bono PR and marketing to help organisations engaged in the fight against breast cancer, including the Susan G. Komen North Jersey Affiliate and Male Breast Cancer Coalition.