Men In Pink

Can you pick out the false statement? Only women are diagnosed with breast cancer. Women are the only ones who deal with the effects of breast cancer. Real men hate pink.

Tricked you. All of them are false. While it’s true that the relative cases of breast cancer in men are small compared to the diagnosed cases in women, men can still get breast cancer.

And we all know that no one deals with cancer alone. Men are not immune when a woman in their life is diagnosed. Because of that, many local men rally in support of local breast cancer patients, survivors, and research. These men, just a small portion joining the local Real Men Wear Pink campaign, are proud to wear pink for the cause.

The campaign is part of the American Cancer Society’s goal of raising money for research and encouraging everyone to join the fight.

“We’re investing more in groundbreaking breast cancer research to better understand, prevent, find, and treat the disease,” explained Stacey Chambers, Community Manager of Special Events for the California Division of the ACS. “We’re in every community providing free, comprehensive information and support to people touched by breast cancer, when and where they need it. And we’re helping people take steps to reduce their breast cancer risk or find it early when it is most treatable.”

A mission local men are on board with.

One of whom is Jay Tamsi. He’s the President/CEO of the Kern County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (KCHCC) and KCHCC Business Education Foundation.

His connection to breast cancer is like many men: mother.

“My mother Olivia was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2007 and has been cancer free for nine years. We are blessed and celebrate each year she is cancer free,” Tamsi explained.

“When my mother was diagnosed with Breast Cancer, at first, it was a bit overwhelming. Who would have thought? My mom was someone who attended her annual exams; she never missed a doctor’s appointment. It was tough to grasp. Yet we learned that in a year’s time, a mass developed larger than the size of a golf ball on her left breast.”

Tamsi is proud of his mother “She is a fighter…It became our family’s goal to support her every step of the way, and we also felt it was important that we educate others on the importance of cancer screenings.”

He was actually already active in the ACS. “Through the Relay for Life,” he said. He’s had other family members and friends fight cancer. “Through my work, I joined a team; the following year, I became team captain and then played an active role as committee chair for ACS. It was a life-changing experience knowing that I was making a difference in our community and raising money for such a wonderful organization.”

Naturally, when his mother was diagnosed, his family formed a team. “It was awesome to see loved ones near and far come together and join our team all in support of my mother, survivors, and remembering those who lost their battle.”

Aaron Perlman, who most of you recognize, has a slightly different perspective on it. “I’ve been the morning forecaster for Eyewitness News [among many other jobs] for twelve years this June!” he exclaimed.

Perlman is blessed that he doesn’t have anyone in his immediate family that’s been affected by breast cancer. “But in my career in television and especially through church I’ve had friends who have been affected. No one, thankfully, lost their lives to it, but it has changed them. Knowing that there is help when detected early enough has made me passionate to fight against breast cancer. It affects families so much mentally, physically, and spiritually.”

Cyrus Mojibi, Jay Tamsi, & Aaron Perlman (L-R) are pround to wear pink for the cause.
Cyrus Mojibi, Jay Tamsi, & Aaron Perlman (L-R) are pround to wear pink for the cause.

Perlman loves that he is able to be a supportive person to help those friends. “And being a part of the American Cancer Society is just another step to help fight against that.”

Cyrus Mojibi was born and raised in Bakersfield and currently serves as the COO for San Joaquin Refining Company.

“My wife Amanda’s college roommate was recently diagnosed with breast cancer,” Mojibi explained. “She is a very artsy person and they made the most touching video of her and her two young children making a game out of cutting off her hair before she started treatment. The kids had no idea why they were doing it other than that mommy was sick but you quickly realize the severity of the situation. Our goals as parents is to watch our kids grow up and sculpt them into decent human beings. To have that potentially taken away from you is devastating. It’s hard enough to raise a young family, let alone when you are fighting for your life at the same time.”

“Breast cancer awareness is super important because it is a life or death issue,” Perlman added. “The more people aware of getting check ups is huge. Life is precious and important.” He also touched on something crucial about the history of how breast cancer is represented in the media. “Breast cancer is known to women, but men hear very little about it. The fact is it is real and has a major effect on men.

I think it needs to be heard more often. It should be mentioned every time we refer to it from the female perspective.”

Tamsi agreed. “It’s important to have the month of October recognized as Breast Cancer Awareness Month. This campaign helps our community increase awareness of this disease and encourages women and men to understand the significance of early prevention and detection as well as plan for the future. Although there has been major strides in breast cancer awareness, the work is not done; we still have a long way to go to reaching more people.”

“I’ve never seen many ads for breast cancer awareness for men,” Mojibi added, “but cancer doesn’t care who or what you are. Cancer is an indiscriminate killer. The best time an individual has power over cancer in their body is when they detect it early.  Breast cancer is one of the more detectable forms of cancer, to my knowledge.  Everyone should use that as a reason to constantly be screened, self-check, and take whatever other precautionary measures are out there.”

And that includes using the resources provided by the ACS.

Tamsi said that he truly believes that Kern County has taken the initiative to host many events, cancer screenings, breast cancer walks, and campaigns that spread the gift of “hope.” But he also knows more can always be done to reach out to everyone, especially those without access to care.

“Wearing pink as a man says I am confident in whom I am,” Perlman added. “I would like to think it was always a man’s color. But knowing it is a symbol of HOPE when referred to cancer, I will wear that color in a heartbeat. Support LIFE. No matter what you may think, both women and men need to be checked for breast cancer…PERIOD.”

“Wearing pink represents three things for me,” Mojibi said. “Remembering those loved ones who made the fight against breast cancer and lost.  A commitment to continue raising awareness for those who are in the fight or will be one day. And a pledge to support the eradication of breast cancer through funding scientific research.”

“And I wear pink for my hero, my mom!” Tamsi explained. “The month of October, you’ll see me wearing a pink lapel pin to remind me how thankful I am to have my mom and to also spread awareness to others. It’s awesome to see men and women wear pink to support breast cancer awareness and research. It’s now become the norm!”

It will certainly be the norm at this year’s Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk at Yokuts Park on October 29 (registration starts at 8:30 a.m.). The Making Strides walks are the largest network of breast cancer awareness events in the nation, uniting nearly 300 communities with a shared goal of stopping breast cancer in its tracks. Walkers fundraise thousands and thousands of dollars for months in advance of the walk, which enable the ACS to support breast cancer research, provide free information, and support those touched by breast cancer.

“I cannot express enough the importance of early detection and education,” Tamsi explained. “I am honored to participate and support efforts to tackle this deadly disease. I am driven by my mother; she continues to be my symbol of hope and inspiration that together, men and women, young and old, we can all make a difference in the fight against breast cancer.”

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