It starts as a lump.
Maybe it will go away. probably will not.
It is not.
But you are a man.
You didn’t know breast cancer could form and burst under your skin, but it can. For Sean Salo, Matt Gomes, Paul Kirby, Gary Davis and Arnaldo Silva, it did.
Around 1 in 100 people are diagnosed with breast cancer There is a man in America – means the risk is small, but far from zero. About 2,300 men will be diagnosed each year, and 500 will die. For comparison, about 255,000 women will face a breast cancer diagnosis in any given year and 42,000 will die.
On average, Dr. Anne Schott, associate director of clinical research at the University of Michigan Rogel Cancer Center, sees about one person diagnosed with breast cancer each year. Screening for this is unusual.
“I would say that there is generally less awareness of breast cancer in men and certainly we don’t do mammographic screening for breast cancer in men,” says Schott, a medical oncologist who has worked in breast cancer for 25 years. Expertise gained.
But just because there is less awareness and prevalence does not mean that the disease cannot change the course of one’s life.
In early April, Sean Salo felt a lump on his chest. The New York resident used to have small scratches or swollen tissue under the skin. But it was different: hard and immovable between the size of a pea and a peeled peanut.
An ultrasound and mammogram later, and his radiologist didn’t mince words: “This, to me, looks like breast cancer.”
A biopsy in May confirmed the suspicion.
He opted for a bilateral mastectomy to take out his stage 2 cancer and was later prescribed the estrogen blocker tamoxifen. The cancer had not yet spread to his lymph nodes, meaning he was eligible for a genetic test called Oncotype DX.
The test showed that breast cancer was unlikely to recur. For Salo, this meant he could just stick with tamoxifen and avoid chemotherapy after surgery.
Further genetic testing found that he did not carry any of these BRCA gene mutation He was shocked to hear the most common hereditary breast and ovarian cancer genes, BRCA1 and BRCA2. His mother had breast cancer and she survived. Her aunt had breast cancer and didn’t.
“Good news for my daughters, but at the same time, there’s still a mystery for me,” he says. His genetic counselor suggested that he undergo additional tests to look for other cancers — stomach, brain and colon — that had come up in his family over time.
“It’s disappointing, but at the same time, if I provide this sample that can be tested, if it helps them find something else that allows other people early indicators of predisposition to cancer, then It’s wonderful,” he says.
he sought support from Male Breast Cancer Coalition, a group based in the US but with international membership. He was joined by a fellow patient, Matt Gomes, who had had the same surgery a few days earlier.
“Certainly during our treatment, we are able to compare notes about what we are doing, what we are feeling, what our emotional state is,” Salo says.
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‘Let’s not roll the dice again’
The Gomes of Boise, were no strangers cancer: His mother was diagnosed with leukemia at the age of 40 when he was 16 years old. 20 years forward by mid-January, and he noticed a small lump on his chest, around his nipple, after a workout. After about two weeks, although it didn’t cause any pain, it had grown quite a bit. His previous doctor in Arizona, where he lived, referred him to a radiologist.
After an ultrasound and mammogram, his radiologist said it looked like a cyst and warned not to worry about it. Gomes, a pharmacist, explained that it’s been over two months, with the doctor asking to give it six to nine months.
Gomes’s pharmaceutical experience had him focused on medical research beyond your average Google search. But it was the tales of the people that really spoke to them. Every story seemed the same.
“They found a lump. The doctor told them not to worry, male breast cancer is rare, or they hadn’t even thought about male breast cancer, and they didn’t get tested because they weren’t worried about it. ,” he says. But then they either end up with late-stage cancer, or it has spread.
He saw a mammologist, who did a biopsy of the lump, which showed he had invasive ductal carcinomaWhere cancer cells develop in the tubules.
He had a mastectomy as well as some lymph nodes removed. The recovery process involves draining tubes from your chest and staying empty throughout the day. He revealed this to his new friend Salo. Like years, he did not need radiation or chemotherapy but he started taking tamoxifen.
Salo and another male breast cancer patient helped her decide to take medication after some hesitation. “We were already such a small percentage to get it,” he says. “Let’s not roll the dice again.”
Gomes’ sequel is due to have breast reconstruction in the coming months. For now, a terrible pain remains. “There’s almost like a ghost ache or tingling or just feels very, very far away. It’s weird. That’s the main side effect I’ve noticed from surgery.”
He plans to get a tattoo on his chest to honor his experience: the Hulk, who suddenly becomes stronger when adversity or anger strikes; And another quote from his favorite Neil Gaiman book, “American Gods”: “He was no longer afraid of what tomorrow might bring because tomorrow brought it.”
‘My nose must be sweating’
Paul Kirby, 72, taught instrumental music in Paterson, New Jersey, for more than 26 years and was an avid trombone player. A setback took away his ability to play the trombone, so he is now learning the electric bass and plays the bass drum with the New Jersey Wind Symphony.
Doctors discovered her breast cancer by accident two years ago. She had open-heart surgery to replace a faulty aortic valve, and her cardiologist prescribed her a drug with one known side effect: breast enlargement. Her left breast started growing and she felt tender. she got mammogram and a biopsy on her right side on the advice of her surgeon.
It turned out to be a small tumor; He had a mastectomy and removed three lymph nodes.
In addition to trombone, he enjoys working on cars and fixing things – a one-handed man. His approach to cancer was similar: How do we cure it?
He, too, began taking tamoxifen, although his wife’s aunt and a friend of the couple’s experienced stroke were concerned, a possible side effect. Not to mention that he had a family history of the same.
The drug prompts fatigue and hot flashes.
He says, “I can sit here and talk to you, as I’m fine now.” “And in two more minutes, sweat drips down my nose, my ear lobes. goes, I can get into this cold. I call them cold snaps, from supersoaker hot flashes to cold snaps, where it’s not the kind of cold where you think you want to shiver, if you’re in cold weather I’m out.”
To this day his reflection continues to surprise him. Like a tidal wave out of nowhere.
“You wake up in the morning and you go to the bathroom and you’re reaching for the deodorant in the medicine cabinet that’s the mirror in there and you see that a piece of yours is gone. It can be just a little irritating. But when you Feel like your life was saved, that’s great.”
What’s up with the treatment:New treatments are changing the lives of people with breast cancer. And the future holds great promise.
‘My body responded well to treatment’
Gary Davis, 58, loves working in the yard and planting trees and flowers.
On December 23 last year, his wife touched his chest and felt something that Davis himself had not seen. She immediately saw the doctor the next day, on Christmas Eve. She thought it was breast cancer.
A biopsy revealed that it was not only breast cancer, but that it had metastasized to her bones. He began chemotherapy in late February or early March, and did so for about six months. He now takes oral medications and occasionally receives injections.
“My body responded well to the treatment and they decided it was probably best if I came off chemo for now because of the long-term effects it would have on my body,” he says.
He considers himself blessed. Cancer had started in one of his friends’ bones, and he was in unbearable pain. Davis has not experienced any pain at all.
His wife and two children were devastated after learning his cancer metastasized. But their devastation turned into activism.
Davis’ wife guided him by researching better diet and exercise habits and reaching out to others undergoing cancer treatment.
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‘I couldn’t even look my daughter in the face’
Arnaldo Silva, 71, was first diagnosed with breast cancer about 10 years ago. While taking bath, she felt a lump on her right breast. He thought it was just an ingrown hair or pimple, so he let it go for a while. It got bigger, so he went to his primary doctor. Nothing to worry – or so he thought.
It kept getting bigger. His daughter suggested that he should get a second opinion.
It was already phase three; Her breast and 90% of her lymph nodes were removed on the right side. Chemo and radiation followed, as well as genetic testing.
He tested positive for the BRCA2 gene, meaning he could have passed it on to his children.
“Male breast cancer is more common in families, especially those with a BRCA2 mutation,” Schott says. “Any man who knows this is part of his history should be aware that the incidence of breast cancer is higher in his case or anyone with a family history …