Editor’s Note: Real Men Indeed

I sat down last week to write this, and I struggled. Given our cover story, I wanted to write something about breast cancer, but I was stuck. Extremely fortunately, I didn’t have a story. I’ve never had a friend or family member (knock on all the wood in the world) who has lost a battle to this horrible disease. I’ve had a bit of a personal experience I guess — last year I went for my first mammogram and that was definitely scary. Like so many women, I was told the tissue was dense, so I had to go back for a follow-up. Sitting in my robe in that waiting room, looking around, thinking that all these women I’d never met were thinking the same awful thoughts as me — it was a strange kinship. People talk about the physical discomfort of a mammogram, but that’s nothing compared to the emotional aspect. Last December, I could have told you exactly how many ceiling tiles are in the waiting area of Ochsner’s Tansey Breast Center.

That all felt so far away, though, until last night. I was relaxing at home, playing around on Pinterest, when a text came in from one of my best friends. A friend of hers had been battling breast cancer so another friend had been caring for her 9-year-old son a lot. She was telling me how the woman and her husband had broken the news to their son today that mom was really, really sick. My friend and I both have 9-year-old daughters. We were talking about how unimaginable it would be to have to even think about saying goodbye to them — to know we wouldn’t be around for them when they needed us.

Then, just as I was thinking about what I wanted to say next, my friend texted. “She just died. Right now.” As we were sitting there in our pajamas, with our kids tucked in for the night, a family had just been destroyed. The mom was only 38 years old.

That little boy was not able to hug his mama good morning today, nor will he ever again.

So today, our cover story has a whole new power to it for me. So often breast cancer is a disease that causes women to come together — we hear about someone at our kid’s school and we make a meal for them. We go with a friend to help them feel less alone at a treatment. But with Real Men Wear Pink, it’s the men in our community that are stepping in. When I interviewed John Overly about why he joined the campaign right after losing his wife, his words hit hard. “I felt her fight wasn’t finished yet,” he said. “Now is the time to pick up the baton on her behalf and carry it since she can’t do it anymore.”

On behalf of all of us women, and men, at Renaissance Publishing, I want to extend a huge THANK YOU to all the men this year taking up the baton so that someday this horrible disease will finally be defeated. You are indeed real men and we are honored to spread the word.