Thousands to walk in solidarity to raise awareness

Pink was never a wardrobe staple for Xiaoting Zhang, but the associate professor in the department of cancer biology at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine now wears it with pride — every day.

Zhang, an American Cancer Society research scholar, is one of this year’s Cincinnati area’s Real Men Wear Pink participants – a distinguished group of community leaders who are raising awareness and funds during the month of October. The Real Men Wear Pink initiative has raised more than $5.5 million to support the American Cancer Society’s mission to save lives from breast cancer.

“There are more breast cancer survivors than we have ever had before, so we are making progress,” Zhang said. “And research is a key to new and innovative ideas.”

While breast cancer is expected to take the lives of more than 40,000 women in this country this year, there are currently more than 3.1 million survivors nationwide. That is good news for the estimated 252,710 women who will be diagnosed with invasive breast cancer this year.

But breast cancer is not limited to women. The American Cancer Society estimates that about 2,470 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed in men and about 460 men will die from breast cancer this year. While breast cancer in men is relatively rare, any breast cancer diagnosis affects the patient and their family — men and women alike, a contributing factor to the establishment of the Real Men Wear Pink program.

The Real Men initiative is run in conjunction with the annual Making Strides Against Breast Cancer events. Strides events raise money to help the American Cancer Society fund breast cancer research, provide information and support 24-7, and provide access to mammograms for women who need them. More than 20,000 people participated in the Cincinnati Strides event last year, raising close to $500,000. This year’s event is slated for Saturday, Oct. 28.

The common theme with both the Real Men and the Strides initiatives is one of solidarity.

“We want people to know that we are supporting them,” said Nikki Williams, director of communications of the American Cancer Society North Central Region. “It’s a community; they aren’t in this alone.”

Zhang increases awareness daily with his pink ties and socks, but he also wants to increase research funding.

“The funding environment right now is poor, but if we are to continue to make progress we need more research and more manpower,” he said.


What: Making Strides — Greater Cincinnati

When: Oct. 28, registration – 8 a.m.; walk – 9 a.m.

Where: Yeatman's Cove, 705 E. Pete Rose Way, Cincinnati

Distance: 5K

Goal: $540,000

Info: |

Making a Difference – One Stride at a Time

Money raised in 2016 helped the American Cancer Society with a variety of programs

  • Road To Recovery — Nearly 335,000 rides to treatment and cancer-related appointments were provided.
  • Hope Lodge Communities — 456,000 free nights of lodging were provided to patients.
  • Cancer Information — More than 1.2 million calls and live chats from those seeking support, information and resources were handled by the 24/7 helpline.
  • Reach To Recovery — More than 11,000 peer support services were provided to breast cancer patients.
  • Patient Navigators — Nearly 45,000 newly diagnosed cancer patients received guidance from our patient navigators to help overcome barriers to care.
  • Breast Cancer Research — The American Cancer Society is currently funding 160 grants related to breast cancer – totaling more than $62 million.

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