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Roanoker Writes Guide for Men Supporting Women With Breast Cancer

John Anderson will appear on the Today Show Oct. 1
John Anderson will appear on the Today Show Oct. 1

The husband and wife team of John Anderson and Sharon Rappaport operate their creative agency, The Farm, from Roanoke, with business trips to their former home in New York as well.  Over the years a number of women in Anderson’s life, including his mother, wife and sister, have been diagnosed with breast cancer.  He also noticed that there weren’t enough resources available to the men dealing with the disease in a support role, at least resources he felt comfortable with.

“There was never a place for me to go,” said Anderson, who was given some brochures that overwhelmed him on the day he and Sharon both found out that she had cancer. “All I saw was white, blank paper,” he recalled.

So Anderson set out to write a how-to book for men and has just published “Stand By Her: A Breast Cancer Guide for Men.” He is scheduled to appear on NBC’s “Today Show,” on the morning of October 1 to talk about the book, and about what men can do to provide the right type of support for the women they love.

“Most men are not used to taking care of other people,” said Anderson, who once shaved his head as a show of support for his wife when she was going through the worst parts of chemotherapy. He recalls in “Stand By Her” the strange looks they received when pitching an ad campaign in the New York Knicks front office, both clean-shaven and looking like “Euro trash,” as he puts it.

“We’re not trained growing up, knowing how to let someone else’s needs go in front of ours,” notes Anderson about some of the acquired wisdom he hopes to impart in “Stand By Her.”  “We’re trained to be Alpha males and take over the work place, not necessarily the [hospital] waiting room.”

While Rappaport had firm command of her treatment routine and options, according to her husband, other women may need more help in sorting through their game plan for dealing with cancer. Knowing how to provide that support is critical. “You have to react [to them], not act, to what their needs are…and follow their lead.” That’s hard for some men to do and one of the motivations for “Stand By Her.”

Men spend more time on average now then they did a generation ago with their families, so Anderson believes they can become more supportive when loved ones are stricken with breast cancer. “It’s just a relearning thing. I feel most if not all men have that [compassionate side] in them.”

In many cases it’s about realigning priorities, perhaps taking over more household duties while someone undergoes treatment for breast cancer. “There are benefits”, said Anderson: “In the long term, it can bring people closer together,” and “it makes you understand the real value of life, and what your values should be.”

See more on “Stand By Her” at In addition to his Oct. 1 “Today Show” spot, Anderson will appear locally at the Barnes & Noble Tanglewood Mall store on October 25th from 2-5 p.m.

By Gene Marrano
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