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Do Not Forget about MEN during Breast Cancer Awareness (MEN are diagnosed with Breast Cancer Also)
October 15, 2015, 12:29 pm
Filed under: Cancer

How is breast cancer in men diagnosed?

This is my friend Ambrose  Alkutya Kirkland. He is the face and voice for men diagnosed with Breast Cancer. Read his amazing story: On November 01, 2001 I was diagnosed with breast cancer. This condition may not raise eyebrows unless it happened to you and you happened to be a woman. In my case, breast cancer raised more than a few eyebrows since I am a man. Believe, me I was shocked and surprised. Nevertheless, I went through a mental experience that few men ever stop and think about, even in their wildest dreams. I guess you could say I found this lump many years ago. I just didn’t pay too much attention to it. I knew I had problems with my breast size, but always thought that it was due to the fact that I was heavy. Guys who are fat usually have a lot of fatty tissue, so that’s what I thought it was. I’m sure people noticed that I had larger breasts then most men, but I didn’t know that it would turn out to be cancer. I was on a mission to suppress them. I would wear small tee-shirts, sometimes wearing them two sizes too small. I would even go so far as getting an ace bandage and wrap it around my breast. The best thing that worked for me is when I wore a medium to large tee-shirt; this of course is after I had sewn up the sides to compress the breast area. This tactic seems to work for me for seven or eight years. As a matter of fact, I kept up the deception until October 2001. Keeping my breast under wrap was not an easy job as you can see. Before the biopsy I did not or would not say anything to anyone because I just thought it was a twinge of pain here and there. When I did discover the lump, it was April 2001. Ignoring it, until the late August 2001, when I started noticing little spots of blood on my tight white tees. Now I am thinking, what in the hell is going on now? A lot of things went through my mind, but a discharge from my nipple? This was the furthest thing from my mind. The spots started getting larger and larger and when woke up I would see more and more blood. The months of September and October were spent going back and forth to the doctors and taking what seemed like an endless battery of tests. I don’t see how women can get a mammogram every year. But I actually had to get a mammogram. Next I was seen by Dr. Sieloff who said it was probably a cyst. They found some calcifications from the mammogram and the doctors just wanted to make sure that was all it was. So I had a biopsy done on that Monday October, 30, 2001. Since I had my biopsy, I still wore my tee-shirts sewn up the sides, not to hide my breast but to support them. I had to wait all week for the results. Then on November 01, 2001 Dr. Sieloff called to tell me I had breast cancer. I was in shock, but not surprised because of my paternal family history of breast cancer. I needed to tell my family and close friends. I was scheduled for a double mastectomy on December 13, 2001. From June 2002 through July 2002 I endured ten and a half weeks of radiation at The Northeast Cancer Center of Florida. I was told I couldn’t have chemotherapy because of my levels of estrogen in my body and the chemo would make me even sicker. Fast forward to 2013 I met a young man online by the name of Alan Blassberg, who taught me about the BRCA gene, also known as the breast cancer gene. All those years of going back and forth to my doctors and all my doctors knowing of my family history of breast cancer and it took me going online to discover I might be a carrier of this gene. I was angry. Not at Mr. Blassberg, but at my doctors. They knew. They should have informed me. It’s terrible how men are treated in the medical field when it comes to breast cancer. Mr. Blassberg reached out and led me into the right direction. Sadly on October 19 2013 my biggest supporter, my mama Lora Kirkland passed away, but I continue to fight on with her spirit beside me. I’ve had quite a few scares with the cancer trying to come back in 2014. I’ve had a few lymph nodes removed and a small benign mass removal leading up to my BRCA gene testing in December of 2014 I’m negative for both the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes but once again I’m faced with the unknown. I have two gene mutations fairly new called MRE11A and NBN. The research available is only for women, I’ve yet to find anything out there for men. So once again I find myself a rarity in life. Time after time when we go into doctor’s offices or women images centers we never see brochures centered towards men with breast cancer. We need to do something about this. We need more research done for men with breast cancer. Men are over looked because we only make up 2% of all breast cancer cases About 2,350 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed About 440 men will die from breast cancer, That’s 440 too many. Breast cancer is about 100 times less common among men than among women. For men, the lifetime risk of getting breast cancer is about 1 in 1,000. That’s still too many. Hopefully we can educate more people about male breast cancer. Always remember, knowledge is power.

photo by:Bob O’Lary

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