Thursday, October 6, 2011
Not All Breast Cancer Survivors Wear Pink
Meet my new friend, Bob, fellow Hero of Hope 2012, who proudly represents Relay for Life Burbank.
Bob and I met at Summit, and I was so moved and touched and shocked by his story.
Bob and I have something in common, more than we are both cancer survivors.
Like me, Bob is a breast cancer survivor.
This is Bob's story:
I grew up in Burbank, California. I lived my whole life there, got married, raised my 2 sons there, worked for the City for 40 years. But my wife, Carol and I had always dreamed of living in the mountains, but never could quite break away from Burbank. Then finally June 30, 2009, we moved to our dream home in the mountains at Lake Gregory. 5,000 feet, pines trees, a lake, we could finally live our dream.
During the move it was hot and I took off my shirt. My wife looked at my left nipple and said “What is going on there?” My left nipple was retracting. I said “I don’t know, I am getting fatter and older and everything is beginning to sag.”
Well after my wife urging me (nagging me) I finally called the Dr. and made an appointment. I showed him my left nipple and explained our concern. He shrugged his shoulders and said “I don’t know, but don’t worry about it.” A month later I went back to my Dr. for another issue, and he said to me “I was doing some inquiring and a retracting nipple is a sign of breast cancer. Don’t worry about it, but I want you to have a mammogram." Not so easy for us guys.
Well a lump was found, a needle biopsy was done, and on December 3, 2009, I heard those words that no one wants to hear:
YOU HAVE CANCER!
Invasive Ductal Carcinoma. Yes, breast cancer, Yes I said breast cancer.
I am one of approximately 2300 men that are diagnosed with breast cancer every year.
I am lucky the St. Joseph's Breast Center helped me get information on breast cancer, although every single bit of it referred to "her" and "she." Never "he" or "him." Yes there is still work to be done.
On January 12, 2010 I had a mastectomy of my left breast. That was followed by 4 rounds of Chemotherapy. Today I am cancer free! I am a cancer survivor, that puts me into an exclusive club of amazing people that have beat this horrible disease.
I thank my friend Bob for sharing his story with me, so I could share it with you. Although breast cancer among men is rare, (1 in 1000 lifetime risk, compared to 1 in 8 for women), who knew that some of the same signs for breast cancer that woman often overlook, like an inverted nipple, can also be a sign of breast cancer in a man.
Thank goodness for the loving "nagging" of Bob's wife Carol, that helped save her husband's life. This is from the American Cancer Society's web site, cancer.org:
What if Bob and Carol had ignored Bob's retracted nipple?
Breast Cancer Awareness. It's for everybody. She's and He's.
Thank you Bob, for your courage, infectious spirit and charming presence, it was a real honor and pleasure to meet you. You set my inspiration on fire!