Messenger - Vol. 4, No. 4, Page 3
Speaking Man to Man

     Jim Mullen, Delaware '42, has always been the kind of guy who can
get things done. Co-captain of Delaware's first undefeated football
team in the fall of 1941, he was an ROTC cadet scheduled to be
commissioned as a second lieutenant when he graduated.
     With World War II raging after the attack on Pearl Harbor the
previous December, Mullen said the graduating male seniors received
orders in the spring of 1942 to report to active military duty
immediately following graduation.
     Mullen, a Wilmington, Del., native and graduate of Salesianum
School there, recalled the events that occurred on campus more than a
half-century ago during a recent visit to Newark.
     As a cadet officer, he was assigned to conduct drill sessions a
few evenings each week for a group of civilian volunteers who were
training in New Castle, Del. Toward the end of the spring semester,
Mullen arranged to make a presentation before members of the faculty,
requesting that male seniors in good academic standing be excused from
final examinations so they could visit their families and make
personal arrangements before heading off to the war.
     "I figured it had as much of a chance of flying as a lead
balloon," Mullen recalls. After making his formal request, he and a
friend left for their New Castle assignment.
     "Late that night, when we came back to town," Mullen says,
"Newark was crazy. There were people partying all over. You couldn't
even get into the Deer Park. I stopped a guy and asked what was going
on. He screamed, 'No finals for seniors!' "
     After laughing at the fond memory, Mullen adds, "But, I was
courting my future wife at the time. She was in the Women's College,
and they had to take finals. So, I stayed around the extra week rather
than going home. One day, while I was walking down the Mall to see
her, Prof. John Munroe, who was one of the faculty present when I made
the presentation, stopped me and said, 'Aren't you supposed to be
     "I told him I had some urgent business to finish up on campus."
     A decorated Marine Corps officer who was wounded on Iwo Jima,
Mullen returned to Delaware after the war. He served on the University
committee responsible for placing the large rock and plaque in front
of Mitchell Hall, which serves as a memorial to UD students who died
in World War II.
     After a varied career as a DuPont Co. biologist, a marina owner,
the founder and director of a hospital and a principal in a real
estate firm in San Miguel Allende, Mexico, he and his wife, the late
Marian Stites Mullen, Delaware '43, moved to Sarasota, Fla.
     In 1986, after being diagnosed with prostate cancer, Mullen
attempted to find more information about the disease and the medical
options available to him.
     "I ran into a blank wall," Mullen says. "The doctors weren't able
to explain things, and some of them wouldn't talk to me about it. I
went to a few cancer support groups, but they were primarily for
women, and the men sat there like bumps on a log. I was depressed. My
wife said, 'Why don't you go and start a group of your own.'"
     Mullen did.
     At his first meeting in 1987, five men sat in his kitchen, had
coffee and cake and shared things they couldn't talk about in front of
     "We opened up," Mullen says, "and found we could communicate
easily and talk about common problems as men."
     Mullen says he discovered that there were absolutely no male
support groups for prostate cancer in the entire country. He also
learned that among its projected programs from 1990-2000, the American
Cancer Society did not list prostate cancer.
     Mullen's meetings continued and, as one participant told another,
attendance at sessions grew to 20, then 100, then more. In Sarasota,
Mullen's monthly meetings are now held in a room accommodating 200
     By 1989, Man to Man Inc. had been established. Mullen produced a
simple photocopied outline on how to establish and operate a prostate
cancer support group in any community because he was getting requests
from participants, many of them "snowbirds" who returned to northern
areas across the country each spring.
     These retired executives and managers, who had refined their
organizational and communication skills during their working careers,
had no problem establishing satellite groups in major cities and small
     "The American Cancer Society of Florida saw this was working,"
Mullen says, "and they realized that men wanted to talk among
themselves. After the first year, we had doctors begging to get on our
monthly programs as speakers."
     Eventually, the Florida branch of ACS asked Mullen permission to
take Man to Man statewide and use his materials. By then, he says, the
ACS national office was watching the state program. At the same time,
the national level was getting pressure from men across the country.
By 1993, the program was accepted for sponsorship by ACS nationally.
     According to Mullen, the organizational growth and national
acceptance of Man to Man is only part of the story. What it shows, he
says, is a serious need for national attention to be given and
information shared regarding prostate cancer.
     As the group grew and developed, Mullen and other members
realized that many medical professionals were in the dark about the
     "There was confusion in the medical community on what to do, and
that confusion was reflected in their patients as to what they should
do," Mullen says. "A urologist might want to operate. A radiologist
might want to burn you. An oncologist might want to medicate you. A
cryosurgeon might want to freeze you. You could get six different
opinions and become highly confused, and there was no one to talk
     Mullen says that first group's knowledge about prostate cancer
grew dramatically. While the meetings served as organized forums for
disseminating information, men spread the word on a personal level
speaking to one another. Today, Mullen has an informal nationwide
network and is able to put prostate victims around the country in
touch with men who have the same symptoms, concerns, experiences and
     However, as the patients' knowledge of the disease grew, so too
did their demands on those in the medical profession.
     "Now, I have doctors who tell me they are scared to death to
speak at our programs," Mullen says. "They tell me, 'You guys know
more about this disease than anyone does.'
     "The positive results of this," Mullen explains, "is that our
presence in Sarasota has elevated the quality of the medical practice.
We push men to study on their own, and they go to work on it. Some of
them are real research hounds, and they force the doctors to learn
about the latest treatment options that are available."
     According to Mullen, most doctors say they appreciate working
with an informed patient for several reasons, including their belief
that an informed and educated patient is less likely to file
malpractice charges.
     Mullen stresses that none of the Man to Man literature or
programs offers medical advice. The organization exists to make
information available and to encourage discussion and communication.
     "I don't understand why this wasn't done long before," Mullen
says. "I have gotten calls from all over the U.S. This has been one of
the most rewarding experiences one would ever want to be involved in."
     Mullen says the American Cancer Society is putting together a
national booklet on Man to Man; there is an 80-slide program being
developed for use by general practitioners; and Man to Man members are
offering prostate cancer information on Prodigy, an online computer
network service.
     "I've been on the phone with guys who are so desperate and
confused," Mullen says. "You can't believe the relief they express
when they can just talk to somebody who's been down the same road.
It's not unusual to hear someone say, 'You've changed my life.'"
     Mullen recalled the woman who telephoned his home early on the
morning after a Man to Man evening meeting. She said her husband had
disappeared and she was worried.
     The man had been diagnosed with prostate cancer six months
earlier, and he had hardly come out of his room during that time. But,
after his first Man to Man meeting, he had taken the car early in the
morning and was gone.
     Mullen smiles, saying that the woman called back later that day
to say her husband had taken his  clubs from the hall closet and gone
out to play a round of golf. Mullen asked to speak to the man, to find
out what had happened the night before.
     "He got on the phone," Mullen recalls, "and he told me, 'No one
said anything to me directly. I just sat and listened. But, I found
there is a full life after prostate cancer, and I should have zero
fears. This is what I needed to hear. I didn't think I was going to
live. I am now full of hope, and I am going after life again.'"
     Today, there are about 300 Man to Man chapters nationally with
some 40,000 participants. To locate a nearby chapter, call your local
American Cancer Society branch. The program and Mullen's efforts have
been featured in publications throughout the country, including The
New York Times and the Harvard Health Letter. Earlier this year,
Mullen received a letter from President Bill Clinton congratulating
him on being nominated for a President's Service Award.
                                     -Ed Okonowicz, Delaware '69, '84M