The Man Behind Men Against Breast Cancer

After Marc Heyison watched his mother battle breast cancer in 1992, he was struck by the thought that at every appointment, check-up or meeting regarding her treatment, she was surrounded by her husband, both her children and very often, their wives.

“You often saw a lot of women by themselves at these appointments and we were always taught to be there for our family in need,” Marc said. “An absolute for me and a way to describe the men who now make up our organization are ‘being there for those we love.’ What is more natural than being there for those you love?”

Getting Involved
In the early 1990’s Marc organized golf tournaments to help raise money for breast cancer awareness and research. Someone encouraged him to start his own non-profit and soon a group was born where he was located in the Washington, D.C., area that helped provide mammograms to under-served women and to educate under-served women and young women about early detection, as detecting her cancer in the early stages was the key to his mother’s survival.

Attendees of a recent MABC conference.

He always wanted to get men involved in the fight against breast cancer, so Men Against Breast Cancer began in 1999 and is the first and only national 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization designed to provide targeted support services that educate and empower men to be effective caregivers when cancer strikes.

“Since our founding in 1999, MABC has mobilized men across America, with an emphasis including under-served populations, to be active participants in the fight against breast cancer. Our philosophy is to leverage the support of the whole family to help the patient, with special emphasis on the important role of men in caring for the women they love.”

Since then, Marc has traveled the country facilitating workshops that teach COPE, a proven problem-solving intervention to help male caregivers help their loved ones through a diagnosis and treatment. The program focuses on helping men and their families navigate the crisis of breast cancer by teaching men about COPE, or Creativity, Optimism, Planning, and Expert information. The COPE model has been shown to increase quality of life and to decrease distress (anxiety and depression) in cancer patients and their families. Marc does the majority of moderating the seminar, but has worked with a number of trained volunteers and executives from Johns Hopkins developing the program.

MABC participants.

MABC in Columbus
Marc will host an upcoming seminar in Columbus on Thursday, October 6 at the Zangmeister Center. The seminar, called Partners in Survival, is for men and women and will be held from 5:30-8:30 pm. For more information or to register for this free seminar for couples, call 614-383-6256. Dinner will be provided, but space is limited.

The goal of Partners in Survival™ (Partners) program is to improve the quality of patient survivorship by teaching men proven problem solving techniques that focus on the needs of the breast cancer patient and family. The Partners program creates a unique, male-friendly learning environment that provides men with educational and psychosocial support programs that are practical, easy-to-understand, and based on the most current scientific research.

Since beginning the organization, Marc has reached thousands of men who might have thought they were alone in their worries, concerns or issues.

“It’s great to give these men an opportunity to talk to others in similar situations and to share their stories. It also may get men thinking about other things they can do for their loved one that will enable her to focus more on her treatment and recovery,” Marc said.

“When a woman sees that she has a true partner by her side, she can focus on her recovery and treatment.”

To register for the conference on October 6, call 614-383-6256. For more information about Men Against Breast Cancer, click here.