Martin Kaplan, or “Marty,” is a sometimes resident of Ithaca and a member of the Friday morning “Men’s Breakfast Club.” For most of the year, he lives in Raleigh, North Carolina enjoying the warm temperatures with his wife of 48 years, Adele. But in the summers they live in Ithaca and sublet an apartment to enjoy the company of their daughter Sharon, son-in-law David, and 2 grandsons.
A Philadelphia native, Marty has also lived in other places, such as Rochester NY, New Brunswick NJ, Andover MA, and Raleigh. He attended college at Philadelphia University – studying textile chemistry – and graduated in 1962. At a social in Reading, PA he met his future wife Adele, and the couple married in 1964. Marty’s professional work started as a lab technician, moving to a career in sales and marketing of special applications for textiles, and added a master’s degree from North Carolina State in 1967. Around 2005 he and Adele both went into retirement and have enjoyed the change.
Occasionally during his Ithaca visits Marty helps out around the Cancer Resource Center. His daughter Sharon is the volunteer director so he is familiar with the services and support provided in the community.
It wasn’t until a routine colonoscopy in 2007 that cancer turned into a personal reality. The doctor found a polyp in Marty’s colon and further testing resulted in a diagnosis of follicular lymphoma. It was caught in the early stages, but still left Marty and his family with the fear of an incurable disease and the necessity of long-term treatment.
Chemotherapy lasted about a year, leaving him in remission, but during that time he was encouraged by Sharon to join the Men’s Breakfast Club on Friday mornings for some good conversation with men who understand the stress. It has been almost 6 years and routine checkups show Marty is still in remission. Because he lives far away, regular attendance at the Friday breakfasts is impossible – but when he is able to go he enjoys meeting up with friends. “We just help each other find our own way – how to live with [cancer]. I respect them.” Over coffee and a nice meal they talk about everything and anything, giving support as needed. “It’s just guys. We talk about things.”
Returning to his other home at the end of summer, Marty and Adele keep busy giving their time in Raleigh. Both volunteer at the North Carolina Art Museum information desk and enjoy the exposure to the creative arts. With his career experience in textiles and an MBA from the Rochester Institute of Technology in 1986, Marty counsels people on how to start businesses as well as help retirees navigate the complicated Medicare system.
In regards to cancer, he knows it may come back – but isn’t living his life around a potential diagnosis. Several friends have cancer currently and Marty knows the toll it can take. “You’re better being shot – in some ways,” he says. “But you live life and try not to give [cancer] more thought than you have to.”