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Men Supporting Breast Cancer

1:23 PM, Aug 9, 2011   |    comments
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Washington, DC  (WUSA) -- This weekend a special breast cancer event will open up for men only, but not for the 1% of men diagnosed with breast cancer.

The special event is open to the men who are co-survivors and want to learn how to better care for the women they love who have breast cancer.  It is Men Against Breast Cancer's National Caregivers Conference that will be opening in Atlanta this year. 

Buddy Check 9 first interviewed Marc Heyison and his mother Gloria 16 years ago. 

"When you hear the words your mother has breast cancer, I felt helpless and hopeless; but my first thought my mom was going to die", says Marc Heyison, founder and president of MABC.

Back then, Marc, his father and brother were unsure what to do for his mother. There were no manuals to follow; they were on their own.

Today Gloria is a thriving 19-year survivor. Her illness created an activist in Marc, and in 1996, he started the Gloria Heyison Foundation. Three years after that he founded Men Against Breast Cancer.

"We are the first and only national nonprofit whose mission is to help men be there for the woman in their lives when breast cancer strikes", says Heyison.

Then in 2006, Men Against Breast Cancer held its first men only National Caregiver's Conference in Baltimore.  The one day workshop brought in 50 men. Now 100 men are registered for two days of sharing, problem solving and support in Atlanta. 

"We give each man a $125 travel scholarship at completion. We take care of hotel, meals, baseball game. The only thing they have to pay for is dinner Saturday night", says Heyison.

Men who have taken part of the National Caregiver's Conference have learned what to do with the hardships they face each and everyday. They have learned to react, reflect and respond like the courageous men they are. 

"I've never been in a room full of men where I know all the guys here have cried the way I have. They've all shared the same fears, the same pain", says a member of the MABC.

Another member of the MABC shares, "The hardest part is I think my wife sometimes doesn't truly believe I will always be there".

These men do not have an easy task of being co-survivors but each man at the Caregiver Conference will take with them what Marc and his family did not have 19-years ago. 

"They love their women so much they want to do whatever they can to make them better. For all the women who think men don't talk, they talk", says Heyison.

For more on the work of Men Against Breast Cancer and how to get involved, click here.   

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