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Nanaimo advocacy group supports men with cancer

Sea Wolves Men’s Cancer Pack raised more than $15,000 at an event last month
Dr. Steve Kulla, Natalie Luchtmeyer, second from left, and Lisa Helgeson were panelists at the Sea Wolves Men’s Cancer Pack event at Wolf’s Brewing on Sept. 23. The group aims to spread awareness and support men living with cancer. (Submitted photo)

A local cancer support group is looking to raise awareness of men’s cancer and help create an inclusive community for men going through cancer treatment.

On Sept. 23, the Sea Wolves Men’s Cancer Pack hosted an event at Wolf Brewing to fundraise for the organisation and discuss the challenges men with cancer face with a panel of experts and caregivers.

The group was founded by prostate cancer survivers Greg Brown and Don Helgeson, both members of Man Up to Cancer, which aims to connect men and help them “avoid isolation during their cancer journeys.”

Helgeson said in a news release he was having an “exceptionally hard time” having to isolate during the COVID-19 pandemic while he was in treatment so he joined Man Up to Cancer, where he met Rob Burridge.

“Robbie and I would meet locally and go for walks. It was so helpful for me and I wanted to help not just myself, but other men as well,” Helgeson said. “After a [U.S. retreat], Trevor Maxwell, who started Man Up to Cancer, asked me to play a leadership role. With Greg’s help, we also started a local group to help men on the Island.”

Brown said the group gets together regularly, but there is no meeting agenda that’s followed.

“The gatherings are where the men can talk to one another and have those shared experiences that bring guys out of their shells and lets them be the best they can for themselves and their families,” he said.

READ ALSO: Retired Nanaimo Mountie will ‘man up’ to help those suffering through cancer

Last year, Burridge died from cancer six weeks after being on the organization’s panel during their first community event.

“He was so personable and great with everyone and was a huge part of starting our local community. It’s really thanks to him that we are here today and his legacy will live on with what we can do for men who are manning up to face cancer,” noted Helgeson.

This year, the Sea wolves hosted oncologist Steve Kulla, counsellor Natalie Luchtmeyer, and caregiver Lisa Helgeson, who shared their experiances of working with men who have cancer.

“It’s such a disservice to men when we don’t hold space for them to be vulnerable,” said Luchtmeyer in the release. “Men haven’t benefited from the ability to be vulnerable and to express their emotions the same way women have and this is an archetype that has existed throughout time. Men feel they have to live up to the stereotype of being the ‘Marlboro Man’ and not needing anyone or anything.”

Along with raising awareness and hosting support groups, the organization also donates backpacks with comfort items, such as tuques, blankets, and ginger chews to give men going through chemotherapy.

The event raised more than $15,000 to support both the Sea Wolves and Man Up to Cancer. For more information or to donate, visit

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About the Author: Nanaimo Bulletin News Staff

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