For People Living With Cancer

Is Pink Stifling Blue In Breast Cancer Awareness?

Is Pink Stifling Blue In Breast Cancer Awareness?

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month as you are all now well aware. The whole of the world seems to have turned pink, in what I consider to be a vulgar worldwide commercial venture. But it is only in relatively recent times that most of us understood that men get breast cancer too! I know from the huge efforts publicising my own projects how much work must go in to ensure that men are also talked about in the same breath as breast cancer. So I am truly honoured to feature the below piece from my great friend Bret Miller the founder of the Male Breast Cancer Coalition, in Male Breast Cancer Awareness Week.

“Why did I, Bret Miller, start the Male Breast Cancer Coalition? Well let’s start from the beginning. I was 17 when I first found my lump under my right nipple. I visited two different doctors during my senior year of high school. They both told me the lump was a calcium build up and that it would go away. They said I was going through puberty and “becoming a man.”

Seven years later I graduated from college, landed a steady job at a country club managing their pool and ice rink and had my own health insurance for the first time.male-breast-cancer-2 I decided it had been way too long since I had a physical, so made an appointment with internist. The doctor did the routine work up and all but checked me out, until I stopped him and asked him to look at the lump. He didn’t check my breasts during the exam. He paused looked and said, “You need to go get an ultrasound.” Little did I know this meant I was walking into a women’s clinic for the first of many appointments to come.

I felt embarrassed to walk in for my appointment knowing I would be the only guy patient. As I sat down to fill out the paperwork the questions asked were, “Are you pregnant?” or “When was your last menstrual cycle?” There weren’t very many questions I could answer. They did the scan and had the on-call doctor check to make sure they captured what was ordered by my doctor. This doctor did a triple take between me and the ultrasound and thought I should also have a mammogram, “Just so I didn’t have to come back in.” I think the doctor, a female, had an idea of what I was up against, but she didn’t mention anything.

I met with one surgeon and decided to take the lump out, thinking it was nothing but a cyst. The day following the surgery, I received THE CALL from the doctor and he said those words, “You have breast cancer.” He hadn’t fully read the report, would do so “soonish” and call me back in two or three days. When I eventually told my mom, she jumped on that doctor like a lion. We met with him the very next day! We listened to what he had to say and decided to get a second opinion. That’s when we met with the extremely talented Dr. Lon McCroskey. He told me he had performed mastectomies on 12 men and if I wanted to talk to one of them, if I had questions, he would try and get me in touch with them. male-breast-cancer-1Almost all of these men had taken vacation time off from work for their surgeries, rehabbed and went back to work like nothing happened. All while having a mastectomy scar below their shirts. Dr. McCroskey made a promise to me that he would do everything in his power to make sure this cancer was gone from my body, if I made a promise to him. The promise was I would help put a face to male breast cancer. At that moment I knew I had a new mission in life. No man would ever feel alone again when he heard the words, “You have breast cancer.” I decided to start the Bret Miller 1T Foundation because I knew if I helped just one other man, my mission would be complete. Within the first six months of my diagnosis, I spoke with my very first man. It was a great feeling. I felt complete, but knew I was not done and had to keep going.

Through the power of social media we, my mom and I, have been able to connect with so many talented people across the globe. Facebook brought us to Cheri Ambrose, formerly of the Blue Wave. We connected instantly! We decided to form the Male Breast Cancer Coalition and have not looked back since. Lori Berlin, Cheri, my mom Peggy Miller and I all reach out by phone or email to new survivors and welcome them to our MBCC “family.” Along the way, we have met hundreds of survivors willing to share their stories on our website or in our ongoing video series to get the word out, because “Men Have Breast Too!”

Yes, we have breasts. We have mastectomies. We have chemo. We take Tamoxifen and can have side effects just like women. We should not feel alone.

MBCC has become an international organization helping men around the world with their diagnoses and we are growing every single day. We are becoming more than a vital support system. I hope soon we can help men with their medical expenses, provide mammograms for men in need, award scholarships for men to attend conferences and other events to learn about breast cancer in men and advocate for our brotherhood. I want to continue to honor the promise I made to my surgeon, but we can’t without the help of others. We need everyone to know men can get breast cancer, because it does not discriminate.”

Thank you so much Bret for sharing your incredible story with us! #MenHaveBreastsToo

The Grove Hotel Bournmouth
 I am very pleased to be an official Support Partner of  The Grove Hotel in Bournemouth, which is the only hotel in the UK specifically for people affected by  cancer.
10 Comments
  1. Thanks to Bret for sharing his story and raising awareness about Male Breast Cancer and thanks to Chris as always for sharing stories and raising awareness Hope Bret’s story helps others

    • Thx so much Lesley. Yes I am always happy to share other stories which are important to the cancer world. It is the only way we can learn. I am delighted that people want to feature their story on the site, as we have a good mixture of audience, which can help get the word out. Thanks as always for what you do Lesley, if we all do our bit the world will become a better place. Chris xxx

  2. Have shared this on Action on Womb Cancer’s Facebook page using the hashtag #MenGetBreastCancerToo. Thank you for allowing Bret to tell his story in order to highlight this issue. Deb xx

    • Thx so much as always Deb! Male breast cancer gets left behind within the great surge of pink in October and it is very important to highlight. There is still so much ignorance around this subject. Bret and his community are doing incredible work. I’m not sure there is such an active community in the UK though? Chris xxx

  3. It is good to get this information out there, so that young men who find a lump in their breast will be properly diagnosed. It’s kind of scary to me that just because we don’t think of men having breasts, they get misdiagnosed. Thank you for putting this out there.

    • Hi Rita, I also thought that it is important to get the message out there. I was totally ignorant of male breast cancer until I got sick myself. Still today, many men don’t know that they can get breast cancer, which is truly shocking. Bret and his crowd are doing some incredible work. Thanks so much for your comments Rita, Chris xxx

  4. Thanks for your ongoing support Chris. We appreciate all your important work. #MenHaveBreastsToo

    • Absolutely delighted to be able to share your work! Thx so much Bret for writing that great piece. Chris

  5. Thank you Chris I have said for a long time men too have breast cancer am looked at as much to say don’t be silly. I am sending this blog out to as many people as possible. I have 3 sons who I speak to them about breast cancer and prostate cancer not enough publicly is given to male cancer. Male and female bodies really are not so unalike really. Best wishes to all family Georgine x

    • You are so right there Georgine! Until I got into this work I didn’t realise that men got breast cancer, and I’m sure many of us are still not aware. I feel that the male side of BC gets so drowned out in the month of PINK. Important to keep getting the message out there. Thanks as always for your support Georgine, and big love to you both. x

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