Sunday, December 7, 2014

Marin Man to Man gives vulnerable guys a boost

Support group for male breast cancer caregivers still going strong after two decades

Marin Man to Man is a weekly support group I've been running for almost 20 years.

It's for men whose partners have or had breast cancer or some other life-threatening disease.

I, Woody Weingarten, have found the group can keep guys feeling healthy — or give them a crucial boost when the walls of their lives seem to be caving in.

A section of my new VintagePress book, "Rollercoaster: How a man can survive his partner's breast cancer," touches on what the group does and can do.

It notes, for instance, that:

Support group meets over breakfast.
Frankie Frost/Marin IJ photo.

We can complement Internet info, factoids and data, often differentiating between truth and fiction.

We can de-code what physicians and other healers say — and don’t say.

We can increase understanding offered by relatives, friends and co-workers because we frequently empathize when they can’t.

We can — without embarrassment — be warm and friendly, direct and anecdotal, and add an intimacy factor because we’re human beings and not a book, journal, chat-room or blog.

We can increase a newbie’s stockpile of contacts and where-do-you-find-its because we’ve been there.

Best of all, we can be ultra-illuminating because we can share what’s worked for us and what hasn’t.

For two decades Marin Man to Man has attracted fellows habitually willing to be candid about themselves and their partners,
about their day-terrors and exhausting triumphs, about their feet of clay and feats of unsung heroism while facing a breast cancer rollercoaster.

They’re unusual: They show up. They listen. They talk.

Our group is likely to meet for many more years, with our members continuing to range from those whose partners have had a lumpectomy, a single mastectomy or a double to the rare guys who’ve contracted breast cancer themselves.

Future regulars or occasional drop-ins, as in the past, are likely to include professionals, tradesmen, the unemployed, from every socioeconomic level, of every age, faith and skin color.

It is unlikely, though, that we’ll draw even one vulnerable dude stuck on being “Macho Man.”

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