Trevor Maxwell of Cape Elizabeth has developed Man Up to Cancer, a digital support platform for men battling cancer. He has created a website, social media, and a podcast. Courtesy photo of Trevor Maxwell

CAPE ELIZABETH — Launched in January, Man Up to Cancer is a resource for male cancer patients, with the aim to redefine the phrase “man up” and provide support and connection.

Trevor Maxwell, a Cape Elizabeth resident and a Stage IV cancer survivor with a background in communication and journalism, developed the idea for the website and is the host of the new Man Up to Cancer podcast series, produced by Suzi Pond of Redbird Media Group in Freeport.

Maxwell is working with Kelin Welborn, a Cape Elizabeth resident who assists with web design, development, and business consultant, and occasionally co-hosts the Man Up to Cancer podcast.

The podcast has hit over 1,000 downloads a month after its release in July.

“We sat down and discussed the concept back in January, and after hearing about Trevor’s experience, and his own personal struggles and his passion for wanting to help others, I knew this was something I wanted to be part of,” Welborn said. “The content is filling a void, for sure. There has not been a lot of content built specifically for men impacted by cancer, and the early feedback we’re getting is tremendous.”

The goal of the project is to make men more comfortable discussing their health, Maxwell said. Men have a tendency to isolate themselves when facing cancer, but Maxwell and the Man Up to Cancer team have created a channel that encourages communication.

“We’re at this point where men are getting more comfortable talking about their health,” he said. “That’s important because if we’re not talking, we don’t get the best outcomes. I’m grateful to be part of the conversation around men speaking about their health.”

The podcast is meant to take a bit of a lighter tone, something many cancer patients may not be used to when searching for media related to the disease, Maxwell said.

“The tone is a mix of serious talk with a mix of fun conversations,” he said. “My guests are other cancer patients, other survivors and advocates. It’s people from all over the country, and what I’m trying to do is touch on my core issue of men and cancer and isolation. I mentioned the fun aspect because I guess as a patient myself — I’m still a patient — I found that there isn’t much content for cancer patients that is light. It can be somber and heavy.”

Maxwell’s goal for the project is to give men battling cancer an engaging community that shows how important it can be to rely on support, he said.

“When you hear the phrase ‘man up,’ it’s kind of like, ‘Be tough. Don’t burden others. You can handle things on your own,'” he said. “My message to people is like, yeah, it’s OK to be tough, but you need to be strong enough to accept help. I’m trying to redefine what ‘man up’ means in terms of cancer.”

For cancer patients, the added stress and isolation that Covid-19 has brought onto many is even more severe, Maxwell said.

“Cancer can be really heavy and with COVID-19, it kind of makes it more stressful,” he said. “A lot of (patients) are high-risk. It’s been tough. I am in a high-risk category because I’m on immunotherapy. Basically, the advice to me is just ‘Try not to get COVID.’ A lot of my friends on regular chemotherapy are immuno-compromised, and they’re really at risk. So I think overall there’s just a little elevated stress.”

Partnering with the American Cancer Society, Man Up to Cancer is participating in an awareness campaign called “See Yourself: A Trek to Men’s Cancer Awareness,” said an announcement from the website.

According to a statement on the website, “If health conditions allow, a small group of male survivors and advocates will visit Maine on Oct. 16-18. The campaign was inspired by a video created by Maxwell and Roger McCord of Cumberland.”

The website also oversees The Howling Place, a private Facebook group with over 650 members, moderated by Maxwell and Joe Bullock of Durham, North Carolina.

People interested in checking out the website or listening to the podcast can visit www.manuptocancer.com.

Maxwell said that he’s received feedback from listeners, saying that they’re glad to have a resource targeted to male cancer patients.

“That’s another thing about Man Up to Cancer — I think right now is a critical time for people to be connected,” he said. “Especially with the groups I have, the Facebook group, I think it’s a really important time to connect and make sure people have support.”

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