The Men for the Cure event was founded in 2000 by philanthropist Sharon Magness Blake and television news personality Ed Greene in memory of Diane O’Connor Thompson, who lost her battle with breast cancer on Thanksgiving Day 1999.
Men For The Cure has historically attracted as many as 700 civic and business leaders to notable Denver locations such as the XJet World Hangar and Invesco/Sports Authority Field—home of the Denver Broncos. Keynote speakers over the years include former Defense Secretary Robert McNamara, sportswriter Rick Reilly, and former major league pitchers Goose Gossage and Dave Dravecky. Other civic leaders and athletes that have either spoken at the event or served as honorary chairs of the organizing committee include former Colorado governor Bill Ritter, Brian Griese, Mike Shanahan, and Rod Smith.
In 2011, The Honorable John Hickenlooper, Governor of Colorado; The Honorable Ed Tauer, Mayor of Aurora; Pete Coors, Chairman of MillerCoors Brewing Company; John Elway, Denver Broncos Vice President for Football Operations; and Bruce Schroffel, President & Chairman of the Board of University of Colorado Health System served as honorary chairs of the organizing committee.
To date, the dinner has raised nearly $1.2 million to advance breast cancer research, care, and early detection education at University of Colorado Hospital. In recognition of Men for the Cure’s outstanding support, in 2007 University of Colorado Hospital renamed the Breast Center the Diane O’Connor Thompson Breast Center. In 2010, the board of directors for the Men for the Cure Foundation formally moved the event under the auspices of the University of Colorado Hospital Foundation.
Proceeds from Men for the Cure have been used to purchase medical equipment such as an Atec Vacuum Assisted biopsy machine, a digital specimen radiography system, and a stereotactic biopsy table; support a nurse navigator who provides hands-on personal care, guidance and support for the many patients and families receiving care at the Cancer Center; fund breast cancer research led by Virgina Borges, MD; and launch a mobile mammography van initiative to improve access to screenings and aid with early detection for women throughout the Denver-metro area.
Picture strolling along the streets of Paris, the Eiffel Tower setting the background and people around you speaking the language of love.
Many people dream of a vacation in France their whole lives without ever buying that airline ticket. Christina Mulcahy bought that ticket and even landed in Paris, but two days in to her month-long trip she received a phone call that changed everything: she’d been diagnosed with Stage II breast cancer.
Christine was completely shocked. Shortly before leaving for France, she found a lump in her left breast and her armpit was extremely tender. The doctor thought it might be a cyst, but they decided to do a biopsy just in case.
“I thought it was odd, but I wasn’t too concerned. I was only 33 at the time, healthy (she had completed a marathon the year before), and I had no history of breast cancer in the family,” says Christine.
She left France the next day.
“I flew to Connecticut the next morning and sat uneasily on the long plane ride back to the States. I knew it was the right decision once I saw my family waiting for me. It was very emotional, to say the least. The next few weeks were spent taking lots of tests and waiting for the results. Lymph node involvement. Three-centimeter mass. Slightly estrogen positive, but herceptin negative.”
Christine's 16-week chemo regimen started immediately. Then a double mastectomy. Then six weeks of radiation.
“I had reconstruction surgery (silicone implants) six months later to allow time for my skin to heal. I also started a 5-year prescription of Tamoxifen,” recalls Christine. “A little over a month after my reconstruction surgery, the incision on my left breast opened up and my entire implant came out of my body. Yipes. I then had to have another more invasive surgery to hold the implant in place."
Sure, Christine had some days where she didn’t know how to pull it together and stay strong. But, she wants everyone to know that some good did come from her diagnosis.
“I think one thing that would have helped me going through the treatment is the knowledge of all the benefits having cancer brings. I know that probably sounds nuts, but a lot of times, the emphasis is on the pain, the treatment, losing your hair, etc. This is all part of it, but there are so many wonderful ways to apply yourself and learn from the experience to become a better person. Maybe you gain more empathy, more compassion, more strength, more gratitude, more appreciation for the simple things in life. Who wouldn't want more of those things? Sometimes people need a dramatic way to reconnect with life.”
Younger women affected, too
Christine also wants to pass along an important message to other women out there: “Breast cancer affects younger women too. We tend to think of breast cancer among older women (for example, mammograms are recommended at age 40), but this is not always the case. I was 33 when diagnosed, with no history of it in my family. I also had pain/tenderness near the mass. Typically, they say pain is not associated with having cancer but this is the only reason I noticed the lump.”
Christine speaks highly of the care and treatment she received from Dr. Rabinovitch and Dr. Borges at University of Colorado Hospital.
“Both of my doctors were great. So were their assistants. Dr. Borges was especially amazing since she specializes on young women’s breast cancer, which is me. She has a ton of knowledge about how the disease affects younger women and just made me feel comfortable throughout my care – and even managed to make my random questions seem normal!”
Christine benefitted from other hospital services too. “I went to see a nutritionist at The Center for Integrative Medicine and have been seeing Dr. McGuire [at TCFIM] regularly for counseling/therapy. I also received physical therapy, which helped to make me start feeling physically stronger through my course of treatment.”
Today Christine's "doing great.” Her bloodwork has come back normal every time. And when she was finished with treatment, she asked a simple question to her doctor, one that we’re sure every cancer patient asks: Am I cancer-free?
The doctor said they’ve done everything they could for Christine to remove the cancer from her body. “But I believe the term ‘cancer-free’ is one for others to use and not for the person going through cancer. But for a cancer survivor, the thought that it could come back some day never goes away.”
Christine’s dream vacation in France three years ago ended with scary news. But in September 2011 she returned for a three-week vacation with her brother.
“I was there on the exact day I was diagnosed. We rode bikes and went to wineries in the Burgundy area. It was the best trip of my life because the year had been so tough; it was like I received some sort of redemption.”
The Diane O’Connor Thompson Breast Center is part of the University of Colorado Cancer Center, one of the only National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Centers in the Rocky Mountain region, and one of only 40 in the United States.
UCH possesses a team of internationally respected breast cancer physicians, researchers, specialists, and surgeons dedicated to finding a cure.
As a result, our five-year survival rates for all stages of breast cancer are up to 20% higher than state, regional and national averages.
With this knowledge, UCH breast cancer patients can begin to turn their worry and fear into determination, perseverance and hope, regardless of the stage of the disease at the time of diagnosis.
Learn more about the breast cancer program at University of Colorado Hospital's Diane O’Connor Thompson Breast Center.