(Yes, men get breast cancer too!)
After serving 33 years in the military, including three tours in VietNam, I thought I had been through it all. But, when I was told I had breast cancer in June of 2012, you could have knocked me over with a feather!
I immediately went into denial. 'What do you mean cancer! Not me! I’m a hard nosed retired Full Bird Colonel! This kind of stuff doesn’t happen to us!' Well quess what guys – it does!
My discovery was rather innocent. Showering one evening, I discovered a BB sized nodule about an inch above my left nipple and slightly under the skin. Having dealt with swollen glands during the past, I wasn’t overly concerned. First mistake!
The BB didn’t grow in size, or so I thought. I had mentioned it to my wife and she immediately began berating me about having it checked. It had now been about two months. I told her my annual physical was coming up and I would have my doctor check it.
Ok, I go to my doctor's appointment, and do you think I remember to have him look at it? Nope. When I get home my wife immediately asks about this spot. Now I'm in deep crap!
She insists, fortunately for me, that I call him NOW! This is where things get crazy. My doctor instructs me to get my a** back to his office where he did a quick evaluation. He then called the imaging clinic and requested an emergency mammogram and sonogram. This led to a needle biopsy that afternoon, an appointment with a surgeon the next day and surgery the following day.
I had a full mastectomy on the left side with removal of eight lymph glands under that arm.
I consider myself very fortunate in that all my margins were clean and I wasn’t required to deal with chemo or radiation treatments. (BTW – the reason I never felt that BB growing was because it was a tendril and not a mass.It was growing inward. It was within two weeks of penetrating into body areas that would have caused some very serious issues.)
So, this past June was a five-year anniversary. I was able to stop taking the Tamoxefin I was prescribed and get back to life as somewhat normal.
What’s my takeaway from all this? Men can be real stupid when it comes to their personal healthcare. Don’t be a dumb A**. If you feel something out of the ordinary around your breasts have it checked immediately!
I know it was only by the Grace of God that my family and I were able to get through this very stressful time in our lives.
Colonel Roy S. Adams,
(Navy six years, Army 27 yrs. Retired from Army)