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Alumni Spotlight: Alumnus Stephen Tendrich Launches Pink Nail Society to Raise Awareness of Prostate Cancer

Jul 12, 2022
by Danielle Filjon, ‘22

Stephen Tendrich’s life changed forever after his father’s prostate cancer diagnosis.

Group shot of Pink Nail Society members

The 2003 alumnus (above in front row, second from right) was bartending on Fire Island, New York, when he received a phone call from his father about his struggles with the disease. In particular, his father said he was worried about losing his manhood after having his prostate removed.

It was then that Tendrich, ’03, decided to paint his pinky nail pink before telling his father, “I am still a man even though I’m wearing nail polish.”

This gesture resonated with Tendrich’s father as a sign of solidarity from his son, and when people at the bar started asking what he was doing, it wasn’t long before he was painting others’ pinkies.

What began as a symbolic show of support from a son to his father led to the creation of the Pink Nail Society, a non-profit that Tendrich launched in 2015 to help spread prostate cancer awareness across the country.

“The motto of the Pink Nail Society is ‘give prostate cancer the finger,’” Tendrich said. “We try to raise awareness for an issue that isn’t really spoken about as much among men, the very real issue of prostate cancer.”

Pink Nail Society (PNS) does this by marching at Pride events with pink-pinkies held high, and outreach to communities to help men without insurance afford prostate exams to screen for cancer.

“We would raise money at local bars or venues,” Tendrich said, “and send the proceeds to the Prostate Cancer Foundation based in California, as they help fuel research for prostate cancer.”

Tendrich said the organization has been catching on in his new hometown of Fort Lauderdale. “I would see people wear Pink Nail Society shirts here and there, and I thought to myself how cool it was that we are actually able to spread this message and raise awareness even if we aren’t as big of an organization.”

Tendrich aims to change the conversation and spread awareness of this disease nationwide and worldwide. “It’s a sensitive thing to talk about for men, an unspoken topic,” he said. “You wonder with women and breast cancer, why is it so easy for women to talk about breast cancer and not men about prostate cancer?”

PNS has a large emphasis on community, and cultivating an awareness that allows men in vulnerable states to receive help and recognition, regardless of sexual orientation and expression. Tendrich, who identifies as gay, said his group advocates for prostate cancer awareness in the gay community extensively.

Advocating for vulnerable populations is something he is no stranger to, as he has also spent time in Africa teaching deaf children American Sign Language. Tendrich, who is also hearing impaired, has never let obstacles like that get in his way. In fact, during his time at Flagler he was a highly popular DJ on WFCF, Flagler College Radio.

He was recently married, and symbols of PNS made an appearance through pink handkerchiefs in the suits at his wedding, honoring both the non-profit, as well as his father’s victory over prostate cancer.

He now teaches American Sign Language at Broward College, and has high visions for his non-profit to to grow larger and partner with more prostate cancer groups.

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