I was diagnosed with breast cancer in February 2009. The cancer was already Stage IV (metastatic), and it was in my bones and in one lung.
My dog was the one that saved my life.
He kept going up on my chest, sniffing and digging. I thought I pulled a muscle working out in the gym. I stayed away from working out for about 6 weeks, but the dog kept going back there.
I went to my doctor, and he said he didn’t like what he saw. About week later, after MRIs and other tests, they confirmed that it was breast cancer.
As a man, I felt like, “Wow, is there anybody else out there that has this?”
For the next three days I sat on the couch. And then I said, “I’m ready to kick cancer right in the teeth today. It’s not going to stop me from doing what I love.” I got on my bike, and I haven’t stopped. It’s a struggle, but I can still do 25 miles.
My oncologist said to me, “I don’t know what you’re doing, but just keep doing it.” She keeps telling me I’m beating the odds.
I’ve been feeling great, but the previous drug stopped working so they just put me on some chemotherapy. I also had part of my jaw taken out due to the effects of another medicine I took for years. I kept getting infections, and my face was swelling up. I was in a lot of pain.
My new jaw was coming in from Germany, and I joked that I was really afraid I was going to speak in German when they were done with the surgery.
That’s just the way I am. I always liked making people feel good about themselves. Some people have stressful jobs or might be having a stressful time at home.
When I retired from my job, I really felt a void. I wanted to help other people with cancer. After I did a radio interview for breast cancer awareness month, organizations started getting in touch with me. Now I volunteer and speak at health fairs. I feel I can really reach people and get the word out there.
I tell people that men have breasts, too. And there’s nothing to shy away from if you feel a lump in your chest area, or under your arm. Please get tested, because men do get breast cancer. It’s important to take care of yourself.
If you’re a man that’s been diagnosed, don’t feel like there isn’t help out there for you. There is.
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Photography by Saul Palomo, Link9 Studio.