By Vance Stacks
My name is Vance Stacks, Jr. and I am a 3x male breast cancer survivor!
I am also a son, a brother, a grandson, a nephew, a father, a grandfather, cousin, a friend, and a mentor. I am a native Memphian, and I graduated from Central High School in Memphis, TN. I enjoy speaking about my life experiences, being out in nature, and giving back to my community.
The Car Accident That Saved My Life
I was involved in a vehicle accident in 2013, flipped my vehicle and from that vehicle accident, my breast cancer journey began. I went to have a chest x-ray done and they noticed a dark spot on my left nipple. My primary care physician sent me to an oncologist for a biopsy. I had no pain. There was no lump, and I had no symptoms. The first doctor conducted a biopsy and it came back negative. Three to four weeks later a knot formed and this time it was big enough for me to touch and fill with my hands. My Primary Physician sent me to another oncologist and that doctor conducted a second biopsy when it came back positive for stage one breast cancer. I was 43 yrs old and advised that a mastectomy was my best route of treatment. So in 2013, I had my first surgery and luckily I didn’t have to go through any chemotherapy or radiation. So I decided on having a single mastectomy.
After enjoying 6 years of remission and no evidence of disease, in October 2019, I started feeling lethargic at a family reunion. I advised one of my cousins that I believe my cancer had returned because of the way I was feeling. Upon returning to Memphis the first thing I did was set an appointment. West Cancer Center in Memphis TN conducted a biopsy and my breast cancer had returned and the cancer was in stage three. It was very aggressive and had attached itself to my chest bone but did not penetrate or metastasize my bone. I underwent a second Mastectomy in the same breast area and underwent 27 rounds of Chemotherapy.
The Third Time's a Charm
After chemo, I was enjoying being cancer-free again!! I went for my six-month check-up in 2020 and I thought it would be just a routine check-up. It was not even close to a regular checkup. The oncologist conducted a biopsy and advised me that it appears my cancer had returned. After a week of waiting on the results which felt like a year to me. I underwent a third Mastectomy and underwent 32 rounds of radiation. April 29, 2021, I rang the bell for the third time being cancer-free.
Breast Cancer Side Effect and Hormonal Therapy
I went through the loss of hair, and my body changed drastically. I love 150 pounds and even lost my toenails and fingernails. But I am so grateful to my support team. It makes a huge difference when you have a great support team.
I am currently taking tamoxifen for the next five years. I do experience some side effects which are really bad hot flashes and some insomnia. I was assigned a pain doctor to manage my pain after being diagnosed in January 2022 with what’s called Mastectomy Pain Syndrome. Today, I am so grateful to say that I am cancer-free and feeling well!
If it was not for my three F’s I would not have made it. FAITH, FAMILY, AND FRIENDS!
I am so grateful to Methodist and my team of caregivers who helped me through these scary and challenging experiences. Many members of my care team went above and beyond to give me the best care possible and to make me feel as though they truly cared. I am so grateful because they helped me be here today. Timothy Garrett (like a son), Jay Cole ( Best Friend), Roselynn Brown ( Bestfriend and B/C survivor), and Mrs. Madelyn Barksdale (Breast Cancer Survivor ) would come over on days that I could not cook or wash. My team of caregivers assisted me at appointments, cleaning my house, and just doing general things that I could not. I do not want to forget the staff at Methodist Hospital oncology department AND West Cancer Center Memphis east location. Their compassion and commitment to their patients are above compare.
As a three-time male breast cancer survivor, I am also so grateful to share my story with you all today and to share my message – PINK AIN’T WHATCHA THINK! – to make sure that all of you know that men are also at risk for this disease. In fact, I founded a non-profit by the name “Pink Ain’t Whatcha Think!” that is working to give support and hope to patients undergoing cancer treatment that I am so proud of and excited to grow.
I hope by sharing my story more people know now that breast cancer is a disease that can impact ANY of us.
Thank you for allowing me to share my story.
I am so very thankful… and remember, Pink Ain't Whatcha Think!
Pink Ain’t Whatcha Think is bringing awareness that men have Breast Too. That men can get Breast Cancer. We are helping all cancer patients' families of loved ones that transition without funeral expenses. We offer free cremation to those families that can’t afford a proper service for their loved ones. In addition, we also offer to send terminally ill cancer patients on their ultimate wish before transition.
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