In May 2013, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. YES, men get breast cancer too. No family history of breast cancer, so this came as a huge surprise. I quickly learned that most people, including the receptionists and others at the breast treatment center, were also surprised to learn men can get breast cancer (they always looked to my wife at check in). So, after having a mastectomy, a year of chemo, and keeping the fact that I was a breast cancer survivor to only a few people in my life, I knew I had to go “public” with my cancer diagnosis.
Unlike women who are diagnosed with breast cancer, men carry a “kind of shame and embarrassment” that they have a women’s disease. I have actually been laughed at when I shared that I am a breast cancer survivor and joked with about getting reconstructive surgery. Joke?! Can you imagine anyone joking about that with a woman who is a breast cancer survivor? So, now my mission is to spread the word that breast cancer does not discriminate, and that includes gender. Men need to be made aware that they are at risk also. It’s about saving lives, right? Both women and men.
American Cancer Society 2019 statistics on male breast cancer: It used to be 1 in 1000 men would be diagnosed with breast cancer. It is on the rise. It is now 1 in 833. 500 men will die this year because of breast cancer, mostly because they are unaware they could get it &/or let any unknown symptoms go too long. This year 2670 men will be diagnosed with breast cancer.