WeissCrax: ‘Man Up’ to breast cancer

John Ramirez holds up a 'Ball for Cancer' t-shirt at the Boys & Girls Club of Santa Barbara, where he and Tray Glover hosted a basketball tournament to raise money for battling the disease.

Bulletin!! Bulletin!! Bulletin!!

We interrupt this sportz column to bring you yet another potential Pulitzer Prize winning, special WeissCrax Investigative Report!!

So do that ‘60 Minutes’-like- clock-ticking-noise-in-your-head-thing-here and let’s get this show started … tick …. tick … tick …

Meet John Ramirez.

He’s a soft-spoken young man and a recent Dos Pueblos grad who just finished Santa Monica City College.

He loves life.

He loves his family.

And, like most people … he just hates, hates, hates cancer.

That’s mostly because both his grandmother and his aunt suffered from this terrible disease.

Ramirez is not the kinda guy to sit on the sidelines and do nothing about it …

So when his mom, Arlene, signed up September’s Avon 2-day Walk for Breast Cancer — he did too.

Both are ‘IN IT TO END IT’ as this year’s Avon theme promotes …

OK, so what does he do next to raise the required participation money?

He teams up with his good buddy, Tray Glover and together they launch ‘Ball 4 Cancer’ — a one day, single elimination basketball tourney held Sunday at the Santa Barbara Boys and Girls Club.

Eight teams. Plus shoot-out events and a cool exhibition game featuring movie star Ving Rhames’ young LA All-Star team playing against local kids.

Eight teams showed up to 'Ball for Cancer'

‘We wanted to open up donations, have some fun and also give these young adults an opportunity to give back to their community,’ Ramirez said.

And the timing is impeccable, one could say…

Because two hours before the tournament’s 9:00 a.m. tip off … right here on the very same basketball court … are ‘all the usual suspects’ playing hoops as they normally do early every Sunday morning.

Guys who come from all walks of local life.

All accomplished in their chosen field.

And coming weekly to ‘forget about life for awhile’ … to grab a workout amongst friendly competition … with all the usual, good-natured banter that bands these big boys together like, well, duct tape.

A few have been playing Sunday hoops together since ‘The Glory Days’ — the mid- 1980’s on the tennis/hoop courts at world-renown architect Barry Berkus’ estate, high above Hope Ranch.

Guys like Stan Hatch …

Nearly 20 years ago, at the peak of his stellar legal career — including having a law firm bearing his name: Hatch & Parent — he recalls feeling an irritation on his left nipple.

Stan Hatch

Stan Hatch on the basketball court

Unlike most guys who might ‘blow it off’ — he made an immediate appointment to see his physician.

You see –like it does with Ramirez, breast cancer runs in Hatch’s family. Both his mother and grandmother had it too, so the disease was on his radar…

‘Men have a small percentage of the same breast tissue as women, so there is a corresponding risk of getting breast cancer,’ says Hatch. ‘Plus, I knew four guys who already had it.’

At Hatch’s appointment, his doctor performed a needle biopsy and then a cutting biopsy.

The results came back immediately — while he was still there.

‘Stan, it’s malignant,’ his doctor said. ‘You have breast cancer.”

Or ‘chest cancer’ as Hatch now calls it …

A mastectomy was quickly scheduled for the next week.

Hatch even found an anesthesiologist who embraced hypnosis into her practice, so via the power of suggestion, he required only one-third the amount of the normal anesthesia for this successful surgery.

Afterwards, there were few resources to assist him …

No Breast Cancer Resource Center (BCRC) as there is today.

‘Six months later, I had a mastectomy on my right breast as a precaution. Plus, I figured if I ever went swimming, I didn’t want to be going around in circles,’ he quipped about the smooth symmetry on his now nipple-less chest.

He rebounded from both surgeries and it all prompted a total lifestyle change, one full-of-health and free-of-stress …

Hatch retired as one of the area’s most prominent land use and water attorneys …wrapped up a complicated $600M State water project … started eating better …took up yoga and meditation.

He participated in the launch of the BCRC.

‘Stan still actively serves on our Advisory Board and in our Buddy Program – mentoring other men who get breast cancer,’ says Silvana Kelly, BCRC Executive Director.

Looking back, Hatch considers that ‘getting chest cancer was one of the best things to ever happen to him’ – as he takes much better care of himself.

He still leads an active lifestyle. He is Chair Emeritus at Direct Relief International, and still skis, a sport he took up at age five.

And, of course, he’s still ‘going strong to the hoop’ …

Today, here at the Santa Barbara Boys and Girls Club, both his and Ramirez’s two very similar, yet very different worlds touch…. united in sport … and both ‘man-ing up’ to cancer.

Both are incredible models of inspiration …

At only age 24 — Ramirez’s ‘Ball 4 Cancer’ is setting new standards in ‘giving back’ and making a positive difference in the world … and he’s just getting started.

You will definitely be hearing more about community good deeds launched by this special young dude.

Then, of course, there’s Stan ‘The Man’ Hatch — ‘the grand daddy of them all’ — who has long been ‘the poster boy’ for early breast/chest cancer detection and intervention for men and women alike –

And who continues to actively serve a model of health … community impact …and, you could say, at age 77…. ‘Hoops 4 Life.’

Yes, every Sunday morning …


Breast/Chest Cancer Top Tips for Guys

* Pay attention….a small percentage of guys get it too.

* Learn how to give yourself a breast self-inspection in the shower – just like
women do.

* If you feel a lump –see a doctor as soon as possible.

* ‘If you feel an irritation, don’t wait. Get it checked immediately. Or it could
turn into a Stage 3 – or more drastic condition — by the time you see your
doctor,’ says Stan.

* ‘Incorporate a clinical breast cancer check into your annual physical exam,’
Silvana recommends.