Real Men Wear Pink
Fundraising campaign raises breast cancer awareness
Even though it was some 35 years ago, Shane Cheatham hasn’t forgotten his mother’s pain.
His family’s suffering. “I was probably 11 or 12, and I remember her having to go through the surgeries. I remember she got breast cancer, went through everything, then it came back. I just remember watching her and my dad and my brother. It was just a very tough time for our family.”
Cheatham’s mom (Mary) – a two-time cancer survivor – will turn 71 this year on Christmas. Also, this year, her son is raising money to help find a cure for – and bring awareness to – cancer. Cheatham is one of 20 ambassadors (along with Airline and Parkway high schools) for the American Cancer Society’s (ACS) of Northwest Louisiana campaign.
“(Cancer) is something you don’t always want to talk about, and people don’t talk about it a lot,” Cheatham said. “But when you’ve been through it and you’ve seen your loved ones go through it, it kind of hits you in a spot. You want to help make a difference.”
“Real Men Wear Pink is a peer-to-peer fundraising campaign where leaders in the northwest Louisiana community commit to wear some form of pink in October,” said
Ro Morvant, senior development manager for the ACS. “So, that could be a tie, a shirt, whatever the case may be. They fundraise on our behalf during the month. They ask their friends, their network and their families to support them as they stand out in the fight against cancer by wearing pink.”
The color pink symbolizes breast cancer, so Cheatham, the 47-year-old owner of 318 Real Estate, has made some adjustments to his wardrobe.
“I went out and bought some pink Crocs. Crocs aren’t really my thing, but I was watching the LSU game, snapped a picture and put it on social media and said, ‘I’m watching the LSU Tigers but I’m wearing my pink Crocs.’ I got some other pink stuff, so my goal is two or three days a month to wear something pink. I’ve ordered a Halloween costume that’s got a little pink involved in it. I’ll go to a Halloween party with some friends and just create awareness.”
According to the ACS, almost two million new cancer cases are expected to be diagnosed this year. More than 600,000 cancer deaths are anticipated. Raising awareness isn’t the same as donating, but Morvant hopes it does encourage people to donate.
“I really do believe that support -- someone standing out and saying, ‘Hey, I’m supporting you by wearing pink,’ does translate into donations nine out of 10 times.”
While breast cancer affects mostly women, men were chosen to lead the current fundraising campaign.
“There’s always someone behind every woman who is impacted by cancer – specifically breast cancer,” Morvant said. “There’s usually a son, a father, a brother, an uncle or a cousin – there are men in the lives of the women who are affected by breast cancer. Having them show their support by something as silly as wearing a pink tie really goes a long way in the fight against cancer. It shows the women in their circles – in their peer group and families – that they are genuinely supported and loved not only by the ACS but by the people who are closest to them.”
Cheatham has used his experience seeing the effects of cancer on a loved one to help others in a similar position.
“My mom is kind of the rock of our family,” Cheatham said. “To see her going through that and struggling with that, it was something that made a lasting impression on me. It’s one of those things that sometimes you kind of want to block out, because it was a tough time. But if you talk about it and bring awareness to it, it is something that hopefully can help other people in the future.”
Morvant stressed that all the money raised from the Real Men Wear Pink in Northwest Louisiana campaign would go directly to the ACS.
“All of the funds that are raised through this campaign go to support breast cancer research and breast cancer patient programs which are fully funded by the ACS. … The ACS has a program called “Reach to Recover,” which is an app platform where current patients who are going through breast cancer treatment can connect with people who have gone through the whole treatment process, and are surviving on the other side of that diagnosis.”
To learn more about the ACS, you may visit www.cancer.org.