Breast Cancer: A Man’s Story

Read Time:3 Minute, 37 Second

I’m a guy, and in 1997, while taking a shower, I felt a lump in my right breast. It was about the size of a pencil eraser. I wasn’t too concerned because, hell, only women got breast cancer.

I mentioned the lump about a year later while undergoing my annual physical. The doctor massaged it and said, no worries. Men don’t get breast cancer. So, this reinforced my original lack of knowledge about breast cancer. Men don’t get breast cancer because the doctor told me so, and I already knew it anyway.

Year after year, I underwent my job required physicals, and not always with the same doctor, but always with the same diagnosis: men don’t get breast cancer. Finally, a doctor, after examining the lump, recommended I see a surgeon even though men didn’t get breast cancer. When he saw my eyebrows go up, he verified what I had been told while telling me seeing a surgeon was a precaution.

I was puzzled: just a precaution? Against what? Regardless, I made an appointment with a local surgeon, known primarily for his arrogance rather than his ability with a blade. I remember the appointment and his examination. When finished, he escorted me into his office, never a good sign, and explained that while men do get breast cancer, it was so rare as to be nonexistent.

The end result: don’t worry about the tiny, eraser-sized lump in my right breast. It’s just ‘fatty tissue.’ I left feeling both shocked and relieved. Ok. I guess men do get breast cancer, but not often enough to count. Yea. That sums it up, and I stopped worrying about it until 2013.

I was sitting on the couch watching TV with my lady friend and went to put my arm around her. I pulled back when I felt her shoulder press against my breast. She was surprised at my reaction until she saw me rubbing it. That began a long journey to the Mayo Clinic.

Before I got there, however, there were several doctor’s appointments, including one with another surgeon. This one ordered a biopsy, which was inconclusive. The surgeon, maintaining that male breast cancer is so rare as to be nonexistent, said he would remove the lump, now about 2cm in size. He said it was a lumpectomy because he was convinced it wasn’t cancer, so he wasn’t going to check the lymph nodes because, after all, men didn’t get breast cancer.

I was exhausted and had no confidence in this guy. Finally, my friend Julie convinced me to make an appointment at the Mayo Clinic, about three hours away by car. The doctors I met there differed significantly from any of the twelve I had seen since 1997. The Mayo doctors were thorough and concerned. Not once did I hear anyone say men don’t get breast cancer.

Next came a core biopsy, which I might add was painful as hell. That was followed by a Stage 2 breast cancer diagnosis, even though everyone knew men didn’t get breast cancer. The mastectomy took place a week after diagnosis. Fortunately, there was no lymph node involvement, and I went home with a prescription for Tamoxifen, an anti-cancer drug that I would have to take for the next five years.

So, that’s the story of a man who got breast cancer at a time when men didn’t get breast cancer.

The moral of the story: get a second and even a third opinion if you feel your doctor is being dismissive, or if signs of a serious condition may be present, seek out a clinic with some major creds, such as Mayo. It’s your life, after all.

This is a true story, and I hope it serves as a caution to those men who may find a lump in their breast. Do not dismiss it by thinking, ‘Men don’t get breast cancer.’ They do, and I am living proof. Many thanks to the great folks at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida, particularly my surgeon, Dr. Sarah McLoughlin. Your insistence on a mastectomy may well have saved my life.

Follow The Hub Publication for practical tips and inspiring stories.

Article originally published at The Hub, Medium Corporation.

About Post Author

Professor Mike

Professor Mike is a left-leaning, dog loving, political junkie. He has written dozens of articles for Substack, Medium, Simily, and Tribel. Professor Mike has been published at Smerconish.com, among others. He is a strong proponent of the environment, and a passionate protector of animals. In addition he is a fierce anti-Trumper. Take a moment and share his work.
Happy
Happy
0 %
Sad
Sad
0 %
Excited
Excited
0 %
Sleepy
Sleepy
0 %
Angry
Angry
0 %
Surprise
Surprise
0 %
0 0 votes
Article Rating
Subscribe
Notify of

1 Comment
Newest
Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Tall Stacey
3 months ago

For something “So rare as to be non-existent”, I have known 3 – 1 now deceased, 2 others treated and so far so good. The younger one was diagnosed at 23, it had metastasized and he had the whole chemo/radiation treatment routine. I am happy to hear that you were not subjected to that.

Previous post When the Race Card Is Your Ace in the Hole—A True Story
Next post What We Find When In the Belly of the Beast
1
0
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
()
x