Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Celebration of life for Michael Kovarik, men’s breast cancer research advocate

A celebration of life for Michael Kovarik will take place Wednesday, Oct. 13, at 11 a.m. at the Washington County Fairgrounds. It will take place outdoors, in the sheep and goat barn, under cover but with open windows, to accommodate social distancing especially for those who may be immunocompromised.

Michael Kovarik, right, with his life partner Tim Watkins. Photo provided

Mr. Kovarik, a retired teacher, author and health advocate, passed away on September 22, “surrounded by family and friends” at their home in Greenwich, wrote his life partner Tim Watkins in a message to The Chronicle.

In 2007, Mr. Kovarik was diagnosed with breast cancer. “Michael was first an advocate for getting the word out about the fact that men can get breast cancer too,” Mr. Watkins said. “As his advocacy grew, he also voiced his concern for the need for research to help make this more a chronic disease and not a killer.”

Mr. Watkins notes, “30 percent of the people diagnosed with breast cancer will turn metastatic,” with the cancer moving to other organs and areas of the body.

“Only 1 percent of all breast cancer cases are males. His last concern was that more young people were being diagnosed and their first diagnosis was Metastatic. We have lost too many friends that fall into this category. Well over 100 people a day die of Metastatic Breast Cancer.”

Mr. Kovarik authored Healing Within: My Journey with Breast Cancer, on “the untold story” of men and breast cancer.

He was active in the metastatic breast cancer community, participating in advocacy organizations such as the Male Breast Cancer Coalition and MBC Alliance, said the bio. A program he taped for MBC Voices at the Table on July 26 is airing this month on CNN.

Oct. 13: Anniversary & MBC Day

Metastatic Breast Cancer Day is on October 13, which was also Mr. Kovarik’s and Mr. Watkins’s anniversary, friend Jeffrey Nichols noted in a message helping to publicize the life celebration.

“Michael and Tim had always wanted to have a fundraiser for MBC research but couldn’t find the time between doctor visits etc.,” writes Mr. Nichols.

“Michael lived a longer life due to research, and more loved ones could live even longer from more MBC research. So this day will also be a ‘soft’ fund-raiser to help future ‘Michaels’ live even longer, with a great quality of life.”

“This is a typical Michael event,” Mr. Nichols wrote, “so dress comfortably in your best flannel, as he always did. Jeans, too. It is fall, so bring layers and windproof jackets and hats.”

A native of Pearl River, N.Y., Mr. Kovarik retired in 2012, most recently teaching at Veeder Elementary School in South Colonie. — Cathy DeDe

Donations info: www.metavivor.org. Mention Michael Kovarik and add a message if you choose. The mailing address is also on that website.

Contact Mr. Watkins at timwnys@msn.com.

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