Bill Becker’s wife Lisa has made the heartbreaking announcement that Bill is taking the final steps of his journey. The end has come very quickly, much faster than expected. It is a shock. I don’t want to eulogize Bill after his death; I want to honor him while he still lives. Bill dedicated himself to spreading awareness of male breast cancer, so I would like to honor him by publishing again a guest post he wrote for the blog just one year ago, in August 2013. Bill, Lisa – I love you.
Imagine if you can, you’ve been told you have breast cancer. Any diagnosis of cancer is scary in itself. The lump that you’ve found has come back positive for breast cancer. A man in a lab coat sitting across a desk from you just read the results from a piece of paper that was faxed over from a laboratory that performed a test on a sample of flesh from your body. Now let’s change this up a bit, imagine the same scenario accept the ‘you’ in the scenario is a man.
As a man diagnosed with breast cancer there is very little information to guide all the men and women in lab coats with the most current and up to date methods for treating you. When you go in to have an appointment with them, they will tell you that we are basing your treatment on what we’ve found that worked with women. So wait a minute, you’re saying that not only do I have a “woman’s disease”, you are going to treat me based on everything you know about woman. Ok, but I have a penis, isn’t there anything that tells you what to do in the case of a man with breast cancer?
No, there isn’t enough information, there hasn’t been enough research done to directly support medical treatment of male breast cancer. I’m sure you’re thinking, why not? The life of a man is equally important as a woman’s is. Is it because there aren’t enough of us men with breast cancer? Is there some secret society of men who have breast cancer and are just not saying anything? Is male breast cancer like “Fight Club” in that the first rule of male breast cancer is you don’t talk about male breast cancer? The second rule of male breast cancer is you don’t talk about male breast cancer. I cannot sit idly by and not talk about it; I cannot let the so-called stigma of having what is known as a woman’s disease, define who I am. I will not close my mouth and wait quietly with my stage IV cancer diagnosis to die. Like “Fight Club” I will enter a room with a bunch of other men and I will fight! Unlike “Fight Club”, when I emerge I will talk about it (and write about it) and I will tell everyone that I meet…hey men get breast cancer too.
I will join everyone else who fights breast cancer, men and women. When life hands you lemons (or lumps), what do you do? I will make Lemonade, Lemon Meringue Pie, Lemon Chicken, and the list of all things lemon flavored will be infused with the lemons that I’ve been given. I will advocate awareness of male breast cancer. I will tell everyone I can that, yes it is true, men can get breast cancer too!
So how does this scenario end? The most likely answer is that this scenario will end with my death. Before we get to that point, what do you say we talk about it? Let’s make some noise about male breast cancer! Support the awareness and early detection of breast cancer in men. Let’s reduce the percentage of men who succumb to male breast cancer from an average of 25% every year down to 21%. The only way we can do this, is if we talk about it. So go tell someone…men get breast cancer too.