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Hamptons Life

Oct 20, 2010 12:06 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Real Men Wear Pink To Raise Breast Cancer Awareness

Oct 20, 2010 12:06 PM

From the rosy ribbons fluttering on downtown trees to the lights of the Breast Cancer Awareness Month Tree at the Southampton Chamber of Commerce and the pastel balloons in Hildreth’s windows, Southampton Village has been splashed in pink.

This year, however, there is a new element to the annual October awareness-raising tradition: the “Real Men Wear Pink” campaign.

The purpose of the “Real Men Wear Pink” campaign is to boost awareness among men and women that maintaining breast health is important for people of all ages. As part of the concept, 13 posters of men from various sectors of the community, including local politicians, lifeguards, doctors, surfers and business owners and firefighters, have been made and distributed to East End businesses. Many of the posters appear in the windows of village shops. A 14th poster was added last Friday, October 15, of Southampton High School football players who donned hot pink socks during homecoming.

A postcard picturing the first 13 posters—it was made before the football team came out—has also been distributed to numerous East End businesses to help build awareness. On the reverse side of the postcard are guidelines about breast health and contact information for the Breast Center.

Barbara Borsack, a breast cancer survivor and Southampton Hospital volunteer, said she came up with the idea of having local men wear pink to show their support for the cause after seeing a similar event in Georgia last October.

“I thought, what a cute idea,” said Ms. Borsack, who is also the deputy mayor for East Hampton Village. “What a great way to raise awareness by getting the men involved.”

Ms. Borsack said she credits her annual mammogram with saving her life and hopes the campaign can help prevent others from having to battle cancer.

“I’m hoping that my own daughters and granddaughters don’t have to deal with it someday,” she said in an interview last Friday, which happened to be “wear pink to work” day.

The photos for the posters were taken by Tom Kochie, whose wife, Pat, was diagnosed with Stage IV breast cancer last year, but is reportedly doing well. “The battle against breast cancer, believe it or not, is not just the woman’s battle,” he said. “Everyone who loves them is affected by the emotional roller coaster involved.”

Stacy Quarty, a Water Mill resident who helped coordinate the campaign, along with Susan Barry Roden, said the Ellen Hermanson Breast Center at Southampton Hospital is providing free mammograms to those who lack health insurance or have other difficult means. “So there’s no excuse,” Ms. Quarty added. A graphic designer, Ms. Quarty applied her talents to design the posters. She and Ms. Roden, also of Water Mill, are both leaders in the Coalition for Women’s Cancers at Southampton Hospital, a recently formed group of volunteers whose goal is to provide a supportive network for women affected by breast, ovarian and uterine cancers.

“If I have to wear a pink wig every day to make sure people have their mammograms, I will,” said Ms. Roden, a community outreach coordinator and patient navigator at the Breast Center and breast cancer survivor, who played a large role in the campaign. “Next year, my dream is to have pink ribbons all the way from Montauk to Remsenburg.”

As for the men, they seemed happy to play a part. Bill Berkoski Jr. of Berkoski Ice and Oil on Mariner Drive in Southampton Village, said he was pleased to participate for a good cause, adding, “It takes confident men to wear pink, don’t you think?” In addition to being photographed, Mr. Berkoski said the bags of ice his company sells sport breast health guidelines to promote even greater awareness.

Southampton Hospital recommends monthly self breast examinations starting at age 20; a clinical breast exam by a physician or nurse practitioner at least every three years for those ages 20 to 29; annual clinical breast exams for those ages 30 to 39 and annual mammographies for those age 40 and older.

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