Apart from skin cancers, breast cancer is the most common type of cancer in women. While awareness and improved technology are helping to save lives, that doesn't make the diagnosis any less life-changing. This year, nearly 253,000 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed — a number that doesn't just represent a statistic, but mothers, wives, sisters, daughters, friends, colleagues. Each October, real men wear pink in support of these women, helping to raise funds for a cure and offering life-affirming support until the day cancer changes no more lives.
Attorney, Law Office of W. Thomas Bible Jr.
"My mother was diagnosed with breast cancer when I was in the fifth grade. She went into remission after fairly extensive treatment and I assumed that breast cancer, for my family, was a thing of the past. I was wrong. It came back again, stronger and more widespread than before. It wasn't long before my mother's body succumbed to the disease and she passed away a few days after I finished the ninth grade.
"Breast cancer's impact is hard to describe. It caused me to grow up very quickly to help my father care for my mom. It turned my father into a single parent. It took my mom away. But if I only focus on the negative impact, then her pain and death was in vain. I'm probably closer with my father now than I ever would have been. I may have never gone away to college and met my wife. I probably wouldn't have grown in my relationship God without watching my parents, family and friends pray for my mom during treatment. I may not have been asked, or be as excited to be asked, to help ACS find a cure for something that wouldn't have impacted my life as much.
"Breast cancer's impact on my life has undoubtedly been substantial, but choosing to focus on the positive impacts reassures me that there is a silver lining to the struggles my mother faced. During my mother's bout with cancer, she utilized several ACS programs. I can vividly remember how thankful she was to have such great support from ACS, and could always reach out to them when needed."
Rick J. Cadena
General manager, Chattanooga Courtyard at Hamilton Place/Marriott International
"Cancer has impacted so many of my friends and loved ones. Most recently, my dear friend and godmother to my son underwent a double mastectomy, and still struggles with the after-effects of chemo treatments. My fiancée has a family history of breast cancer and has had pre-cancerous tissues removed, so this battle is near and dear to my heart. I'm honored to be a part of Real Men Wear Pink and raise funds for research and ultimately a cure for breast cancer."
Tanner Goodrich, FACHE
Vice president of operations/CEO of North Georgia market, Erlanger Health System
"I've been fortunate that those in my life that have personally battled cancer have all won the fight. My grandmother was a breast cancer survivor, my nephew had acute lymphoblastic leukemia and my uncle is a lung and bladder cancer survivor. Watching them go through treatment, transition to survivorship and deal with the long-term side effects of their battles makes me feel obligated to do more to fight this disease."Cy Huffman, MD
Senior medical director — Blue Care, BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee
"I have watched too many patients and too many friends die from breast cancer, and many more walk through really tough times in fighting this disease. We need to fight with and for these women.
"I am hoping this effort will raise the commitment of our community to ensure that all women receive the screenings and treatments they need and that more research can be funded to determine how best to identify women at highest risk and better tailor both screening and treatment."Hiren Desai
CEO, 3H Group Inc.; Principal, Dew Investments
"A close family member was diagnosed with breast cancer three years ago. My wife and I took on supportive roles not only emotionally, but physically as well. We helped take care of their children so the immediate family could focus on dealing with the impact of the illness. I'm happy to say that she is standing strong against her diagnosis and beating the disease.
"Cancer is a scary word; it contains many unknowns and unanswered questions. The illness affects the family dynamics, and causes uncertainty.
"Breast cancer is the second most common kind of cancer in women. Since I have seen firsthand how it can affect families, I feel that working with other leaders in the community to raise awareness about the importance of early detection of breast cancer is of the utmost importance. The American Cancer Society paves the way for those (and their families) affected by the disease to become better educated by resources and technological advances offered through the ASC. I am honored to create added awareness through the Real Men Wear Pink campaign."James Howard
Morning show host, Sunny 92.3; Host, WTVC-TV NewsChannel 9's "This-N-That"
"I'm so excited to be a part of Real Men Wear Pink because when we find the cure for cancer, I want to look back and say I did my part. Will we find a cure in our lifetime? I hope so. But it is going to take a lot of heart, fight and funding!
"One of the highlights of my career is the Sunny 92.3 Cure Kids Cancer Radiothon. Our listeners have helped us reach over $1 million in the last 10 years to help local kids with cancer.
"I have also competed in four Chattanooga Ironman competitions, helping raise over $12,000 by competing to help Chattanooga/North Georgia kids fight neuroblastoma."Jay Raynor
National director of hospitality assets, DeFoor Brothers Development
"My father has overcome both prostate and kidney cancer over the last several years, but I lost my grandfather late last year after his second battle with leukemia. He was my hero for as far back as I can remember, and it was my first experience with the loss of a family member with cancer. My wife has lost two family members to breast cancer, so we both have unfortunately seen how devastating this disease can be and the toll it takes on loved ones.
"My wife and I were fortunate to bring a daughter into this world last year — a blessing that puts many things into perspective. I'm willing to do anything possible to help bring awareness to this terrible disease in hopes that it will someday prevent my daughter and her generation from experiencing the same loss that my generation has."Jonathan "Taylor" Whaley, MD
Radiation oncologist, Tennessee Oncology
"Radiation oncology is a branch of medicine that is unique in its balance of technology and patient interaction. I love being a radiation oncologist, as I develop true, long-lasting relationships with my patients.
"This cause resonates with me as I see patients and their families courageously struggle daily with treatment. Their journeys provide immense hope and inspiration. Through technological advances, we continue to see more cures and a decrease in side effects of more effective treatments.
"Breast cancer impacts nearly every family in this country. My first encounter with breast cancer was my grandmother on my father's side. She underwent a mastectomy, radiation and chemotherapy when I was a child. Currently, I have a 40-year-old cousin who is undergoing chemotherapy as she battles breast cancer.
"I am excited to continue the excellent community efforts to help with earlier detection and treatment. Together, we can push research frontiers forward."Jon Lawrence
Director of sales, Chattanooga Whiskey Co.
"Fortunately, my family hasn't been directly affected by breast cancer, but I have seen the devastation that cancer can bring. My sister is a survivor of thyroid cancer, undergoing multiple surgeries and radiation. I am currently cheering on a friend of ours from the startup community, Nathan Sexton, and wishing him all the best in his fight [with brain cancer]. #fightlikenate
"It's an honor to be chosen by the American Cancer Society to take part in this campaign. I'm inspired by the work of my 'Real Men' colleagues, and excited to be raising money alongside them for such an important cause."John Sorrow
Agency executive/senior vice president, BB&T Huffaker
Insurance"As a Chattanooga native, I enjoy giving back to my community, and I'm proud to stand up against breast cancer as a 'Real Man' in this year's Real Men Wear Pink Campaign."Alfred Odister
Assistant sales manager, Capital Toyota/Lexus of Chattanooga
"Although I've never had an immediate family member be affected by breast cancer, I have had family members and dear friends lose the fight against cancer. I have a client and very dear friend fighting breast cancer now. Vera Dorman and her courage and fight encourage me to help find a cure for this terrible disease. The Lord has called us all to be servants to our fellow man. I look forward to the fellowship and working with others to help defeat this terrible disease."Jeffrey Gefter, MD
Radiation oncologist, retired
" I have experienced the extraordinary privilege of assisting many wonderful brave women through their ordeal with breast cancer as one of their team of physicians, and most of these special individuals have become like family. They have demonstrated consistently love of life with their honesty, strength and often unexpected humor. And I'd like to share one such episode of humor that helped us all to remember that breast cancer cannot erase the humanity of normal people fighting a curable disease.
"Several years ago, I was treating a lovely young woman with early stage breast cancer. She would often bring her lively, charming, precocious 5-year-old daughter to the radiation department for daily treatment. When we all walked into the exam room for the routine weekly visit (first time for mini-me), this bold young protector clenched her fists tightly against her hips, stuck her chin way out toward me and exclaimed loudly, 'Where's the privacy?!' Her mom gently explained that this exam was OK. Unconvinced and emblazoned, this loving mother-defender dug her fists deeper into her hips, stuck her chin out further and exclaimed loudly in a higher octave to me, 'Well I guess I'm just going to have to start calling you Doctor Boobles!!!' Patients, staff and referring physicians used this trigger often to lighten the impact of our more serious pursuit of laughing into remission, and I have always been grateful to this delightful child for helping us to get there more joyfully."J. Woody Kennedy, MD, FACS
Plastic and reconstructive surgeon, Plastic Surgery Group PC
"Receiving a phone call telling you that your mother has advanced stage cancer is horrifying. My knowledge of her pathologic condition magnified the emotional impact. We received significant support from the American Cancer Society about the disease process. I will forever be indebted to this great organization for the support that they provided my family during this difficult time.
"I am very honored and humbled to be able to participate in helping the American Cancer Society raise funds and help bring awareness to all forms of cancer. Being a husband and father of two girls, I am actively engaged in support of early detection and breast cancer awareness. I sponsor the Auburn Eventing Team, of which my daughter is a member. Each year in October, during Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the team members are provided pink saddle pads and we all wear our pink shirts."Christopher J. LeSar, MD
Owner/vascular-endovascular surgeon, Vascular Institute of Chattanooga
"Our family has not been affected by breast cancer specifically, but we have been significantly affected by cancer personally. My father was diagnosed with prostate cancer, fought hard to beat the cancer, but was unable to survive. His story creates the drive for me to continue to be a part of the American Cancer Society and the programs in the community in which it serves.
"I am excited to help create continued awareness for the campaign and the benefits that it will bring to our community through funding of programs as well as education. Most importantly, I am happy to represent what the pink ribbon campaign stands for, and that is breast cancer awareness. We have a survivor in our practice at VIC, and she is a very special person to me. I am participating and dedicating this to her."