Sunday, December 6, 2015

Men agree age, color and creed don't matter

Support group still aiding males whose partners have breast cancer or other major diseases

Among current Marin Man to Man regulars
shown perusing "Rollercoaster" are, from
left, John Teasley, Edward Marson,
Marv Edelstein and Gerry Bourguignon.
A 22-year-old called me several weeks ago to find out more about Marin Man to Man, the support group that I, Woody Weingarten, have been running for two decades.

His mom had just been diagnosed with breast cancer.

Man to Man, I told him, is a group of males who are coping, or who have had to cope in the past, with their partners or family members facing a life-threatening disease.

He would be our youngest drop-in, I said — but age really doesn't matter. Nor does color or creed, we've long agreed.

Still, at the high end of the age spectrum, I noted, are participants well into their 80s.

We've had members who've been regulars 22 years. We've also had men who've attended only once, taking what they required but finding no need to return (though they've all talked with me afterward).

Although we've expanded to include men whose partners have had lung cancer, and one guy who had breast cancer himself, the vast majority of participants are caregivers for breast-cancer patients.

We meet at 9:30 a.m. every Wednesday at West End CafĂ© on 4th Street in San Rafael. The only cost is coffee or breakfast — if you have any.

Want more information about the group? It can easily be obtained at our website,

To be sure, there's certainly no shortage of caregivers around who seek the support and advice of others who've already gone through what they're experiencing. In fact, according to last month's AARP Bulletin, there currently are 40 million caregivers in the United States — five million more than the figure I'd been quoting since it appeared only a couple of years ago in The New York Times.

My VitalityPress book, "Rollercoaster: How a man can survive his partner's breast cancer," also contains guidelines on how to cope with the ups and downs of diagnosis, treatment and aftermath. It's available via Amazon or your local bookstore.

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