MEN HAVE BREAST CANCER TOO!
By Michael Singer
My journey began back in December 2010. You see I walked into a doctor’s office as a 50 year old male with no major illness and walked out a Breast Cancer patient. My journey takes me from first being embarrassed to now being empowered. From first being silent to now being outspoken. Now I advocate daily for Male breast cancer Awareness. I am the voice for men who can no longer speak and for the ones still embarrassed to speak.
I was seeing my General Practitioner Dr. Joseph Bonanno for a general fitness evaluation for work. During the examination I mentioned to the doctor that I had felt a cyst under my left nipple. The doctor felt it and referred me to a local surgeon for a needle biopsy as this raised a red flag with him. I had been ignoring this cyst which was causing me discomfort over the past several months but never mentioned it because I had just figured it was a fatty cyst similar to one I had removed several years earlier with no complications.
I made the appointment with the surgeon and brought my wife with me because anything with the word needle in it is not going to feel good and she provides me strength. The surgeons name is Anibal Puente and he is located in the Bronx. Upon entering his exam room I started to feel very apprehensive as I have to admit I do not favor needles. Dr. Puente proceeded with the needle biopsy which I have to say was one of the most uncomfortable procedure’s I had experienced and would have appreciated to have been knocked out. Needless to say I cursed a lot and sweated through the paper sheet on the exam table. The doctor could not get enough fluid through the needle biopsy and scheduled me for a surgical biopsy the following day 12-7-10 at Westchester Square Hospital in the Bronx.
I remember waking up in the recovery room shortly after the procedure and still groggy the doctor came in to see me and stated he did not like what he saw and I then fell back asleep with the help of the attending nurse giving me a pain shot. I told this to my wife that night but still never thought in the direction of cancer of any type.
On December 16th I went back to the doctor’s office with my wife to get the results of my biopsy. My surgeon was still in surgery that day and I met with his associate Dr. Reynolds who stepped out to get my file and was the surgeon that removed my cyst 8 years prior. When he came back into the room his demeanor was much different than when he left to get the file.
It was at this moment that Dr. Reynolds informed me that they removed 2.2cm tumor that was positive for cancer and that I have Breast Cancer.
The diagnosis was Invasive Ductal Carcinoma and Ductal Carcinoma in Situ. I was floored and did not understand as I had never heard of men getting breast cancer. My wife was already in tears and I asked her what he is telling me. She looked me in the eyes and said he’s telling you that you have Stage Two breast cancer. Still in shock the doctor said he would take care of this and the surgery had to be done right away. I was scheduled for surgery 12-21 four days later.
My wife and I went home and tried to research male breast cancer on line and couldn’t find any comprehensive information other than it would be treated like a woman’s surgery and I would be receiving a Mastectomy of my left breast. Many feelings and thoughts had run through my mind that day and the following days looking to put my affairs in order as I had just lost my sister to a horrible death from breast cancer and its metastasis to other organs the previous year and thought the worst for myself. I have to say that my wife Patty provided me with as much love and support as humanly possible and if it wasn’t for her this whole journey would have been unbearable.
I geared up for surgery on December 21st and was in decent spirits hoping I would be knocked out and wake up minus one nipple. It was at this point in the hospital that they informed me they were going to do Lymphatic Mapping first with a series of six injections around my left nipple! What shoot me now? Six needles! Where are my drugs? This made the nipple biopsy a walk in the park. It was then they finally wheeled me up to surgery. Finally I met the Anesthesiologist and I begged him to give me something as my anxiety was over the moon. After the surgeon came to visit me and introduced me to the assisting surgeon he assured me things were going to be fine. The last thing I remember was sliding into position on the operating table. I woke up in recovery bandaged like the Mummy and in pain. The surgeon came in and stated everything went well and that they had tested my Sentinel Node and non-Sentinel node and they were negative for metastasis.
The next day I went home with 23 staples and two drainage bottles hanging from my chest minus my left breast, just in time for Christmas and New Year’s. My Surgeon felt I would not need to have Radiation or Chemotherapy but to confer with my Oncologist. I met with my Oncologist Dr. Fuchs also in the Bronx shortly after recovery and he scheduled me for a full body PET scan at University Diagnostics. Everything came back negative and I did not have to receive chemo or radiation. I also had a BRCA test done and I was negative.
I am currently on Tamoxifen which is what they prescribe to women and I have to say it is not a pleasant drug for men and it has several undesirable side effects but I want to increase my life expectancy and this is what the medical field has to offer. I am ten years cancer free and continue to go for blood work and mammograms of my remaining breast.
I have been honored to meet many fellow male breast cancer survivors and their families through organizations like the Male Breast Cancer Coalition, Breast Cancer Brothers.org and Bret Millers 1T foundation. I have had opportunities to participate in several events to raise awareness and will continue to advocate for awareness that men can get breast cancer too. Men need to have a conversation with their medical providers which will help promote awareness and possibly save someone’s life.
The ultimate goal is to spread the word that men can get Breast Cancer too, that men should check themselves routinely as early detection is a key to surviving this horrible disease.
3rd week of October as Male Breast cancer awareness week
Department of Defense Peer reviews (DOD) 2X
Project lead graduate (NBCC)
American cancer Society, Real men Wear Pink, Making strides against Breast cancer
Ford Motor Company Model of courage warrior in Pink
BCRF Campaign Cancer Divides we unite and Instagram takeover
Rode with Governor Cuomo and Sandra Lee for the campaign Get Screened No Excuses
Exhibitor at San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium
March on Washington DC and Held a Die In Increase in NIH 2 billion dollars for cancer research, right to try Bill, Wave waiting period for Social security disability for metastatic patients
Work with organizations such as Cancerland, Metavivor, MetUp, MBC Alliance,
Tops Off photo shoot with MBCC
Times Like these Bill Becker and Bob Devito story
News 12 stories, Daily News, Bronx Times reporter, GQ
CBS News on Line
People Magazine on line
Featured on My Survival story from Switzerland
Wisdo Video series
Head Line News
Katie Couric show with Bret Miller Richard Roundtree and Doctor Hudis
Hallmark Channel Home Show