My Male Breast Cancer Journey
by Bob DeVito
I was diagnosed March 11, 2012 with stage 3a male breast cancer. I had a mastectomy with sentinel node biopsy. The biopsy showed spread to the lymph nodes. I have 14 lymph nodes taken out, 7 were positive for cancer. I had chemotherapy followed by radiation treatment. My one year exams, scans and testing all show that I am currently cancer free.
When I was diagnosed I decided my mission would be to tell everyone I know about male breast cancer. I want others to know you are not alone. You may want to reach out to a close friend or relative or find another survivor; I found a great way to do this was through a support group. Contacting the social worker at your local cancer center may be a good place to start.
Until my diagnosis I definitely thought breast cancer was only a women’s disease. My mother had breast cancer when I was younger. I lived in blissful ignorance, we both did. Whatever the doctor said is what we did, no questions were asked. As I recall. there was no talk of chemotherapy or radiation, she only had a mastectomy. Had I known then what I know now I would have been all over the doctor about her care. I never felt I needed to act differently because I was a man,but it was different because I am a man. Men aren’t included in clinical trials because we fall outside of the scope of the clinical trial, so that’s a battle. Also, I’m a gay male, so when I was diagnosed I needed to come out of the closet twice because I was going to bring my partner, Tony, with me to all my appointments. First I needed to tell people I had breast cancer and second I needed to introduce Tony as my partner and caregiver. The docs and medical staff were all receptive and welcoming to him.
My diagnosis prompted me to make healthy lifestyle changes to help prevent recurrence. Tony and I have eliminated processed and GMO food from our diets. I’ve also joined the LIVESTRONG program at our local YMCA, which is a wonderful 12 week program consisting of light weight training, cardio, chair yoga and tai chi.
I hope other men will benefit from my experience as a male breast cancer survivor. I especially want them to know two things: 1.) Don’t think of your cancer diagnosis as an automatic death sentence 2.) Early detection is key. Men (and women) need to do self exams on a regular basis. Men need to check their testes as well as their breast (pecs) on a monthly basis.
I look at my breast cancer diagnosis as a challenge to be the best I can be, to help others who have male breast cancer navigate their journey and to educate men who may not be aware they could get breast cancer. If anyone would like to hear more or if you are in need of support please email me at: email@example.com
Help with Bob's KickStarter for “Times Like These: Men With Breast Cancer Documentary” at: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/805559970/times-like-these-men-with-breast-cancer-documentar?ref=live