Male breast cancer survivor shares his story


In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October, Yahoo Lifestyle might be publishing first-person accounts of those that have been affected by the illness, which might be accountable for the deaths of an estimated 40,920 girls (and practically 500 males) this 12 months. All girls have a couple of 1 in 8 lifetime risk of growing some type of the breast cancer. Awareness, screenings, and early detection can save lives. 

This is the story of Bret Miller, 32, as instructed to Beth Greenfield for Yahoo Lifestyle. Miller, of Kansas City, Kan., who was recognized with stage 1 breast cancer after years of being instructed by docs that the lump he felt was “fatty tissue.” After present process a mastectomy, he based the Male Breast Cancer Coalition to unfold help and consciousness. 

It all started my senior 12 months of highschool. I used to be 17, sitting house watching TV, once I stretched and scratched throughout my chest, and felt this lump underneath my proper nipple. I confirmed it to a health care provider at a bodily for sports activities per week later, and he stated it was a calcium buildup from puberty that will dissipate, and nothing to fret about. When I needed to get a checkup for school, with a unique physician, he stated nearly the identical factor, verbatim.

I had no insurance coverage in any respect throughout faculty on the University of Kansas, and through senior 12 months I had started to get a discharge from my nipple if I had been to squeeze it. I didn’t say something to anyone, and I believed perhaps that is the way in which of it “dissipating,” so no large deal. Finally, I bought insurance coverage and went for a bodily, and the physician was nearly out the door once I stopped him, as a result of he stated, “Everything is great,” and so they don’t do males’s breast exams. So I needed to cease him and produce him again in and inform him, “Hey, I’ve had this lump for 7 years.” He touched it actual fast and instantly set me as much as get a sonogram.

I needed to go to the ladies’s clinic, which is a number of enjoyable to stroll into. You may inform the opposite males there have been ready for his or her vital different or mother to come back out. And then the shape — they’ve modified it since — nevertheless it had identify, insurance coverage, “when was your last menstrual cycle” and “are you pregnant?” You know — awkward.

Bret Miller with his surgeon. Miller is carrying the T-shirt his brother created for the Male Breast Cancer Coalition. (Photo courtesy of Bret Miller)

The nurse technician bought the photographs we would have liked and known as within the on-call physician that was there. She did a triple take and known as for an instantaneous mammogram. The extra I look again, the extra I feel she knew instantly.

I knew male breast cancer existed, nevertheless it was a type of issues I form of forgot about. The first man I had heard of getting it was Richard Roundtree, the unique “Shaft.” (Years later, I used to be fortunate sufficient to be on the Katie Couric Show with him to speak about male breast cancer.)

The subsequent day the surgeon calls me as I’m leaving my job at a pool and nation membership, the place I handle an ice rink. I’m driving downtown to go bartend. He doesn’t ask if I’m in a secure place, sitting down, not driving, no matter — simply comes proper out and tells me they despatched it to pathology and the preliminary report is that it’s breast cancer, and that he’d name me again to observe up. This was concerning the time of Ashton Kutcher’s present Punk’d, so I used to be ready for the cameras to come back out. I believed I used to be getting punk’d.

But I let it sink in for a minute. I believed, they bought the lump out, so how dangerous may or not it’s?

So it was barely stage 1, and the really helpful remedy on the time was a double mastectomy, for preventative measures. They didn’t actually know what to do with males, as a result of there wasn’t a lot analysis, and there nonetheless isn’t a lot analysis. In my case, they simply really helpful what they do for girls.

Bret with spouse, Tasha, and their canine, who can also be a cancer survivor. (Photo courtesy of Bret Miller)

[My parents and I] requested if he’d ever finished a double mastectomy on a person, and he stated no, that I might be his first. We had been like, “We’d like to get a second opinion.” And we did, and he did say the identical factor, however he stated we may simply do one facet at first. He despatched my case round to different high native docs and people across the nation. I used to be the second male in a research at MD Anderson Cancer Center, and the morning of my surgical procedure, a health care provider from there known as mine and stated, “Do not treat men just like women. Do the single mastectomy and that’s all you have to do.”

My mastectomy was positively an fascinating day: I had Fox 4 and Channel 9 native information right here within the surgical procedure room videotaping. One of the native information reporters, who’s a breast cancer survivor, bought wind of my story. The surgeon instructed me that based mostly on my age, if I’m keen to share my story, I may assist many different folks — many different males. So that’s after we started broadcasting it out. What I wasn’t instructed till a pair days after surgical procedure was, as a result of the size of time I had the tumor, the surgeon instructed my mother there was a chance that it might be all over the place.

Bret and Tasha on their Oct. 20 marriage ceremony day. “I was very open about being a breast cancer survivor from the start,” he says. (Photo courtesy of Bret Miller)

I fashioned the Male Breast Cancer Coalition in 2014, and my brother designed a T-shirt that had two handprints and the phrases, “Guys, don’t be afraid to touch yourself.”

We’re in Pinktober proper now, and all the things is pink and nothing is blue; not a lot is claimed about males. The American Cancer Society is the best, however the different organizations have only in the near past started including “and men.” It’s all about girls — and I get it; there are extra girls recognized and dying. But usually by the point males are recognized, it’s metastatic. It’s due to males not considering they will get it, and the way a few of them are like, “I don’t have breasts, I have pecs.” Well, you continue to have breast tissue.

Absolutely, there’s a stigma. A Million Little Things on ABC truly wrote in a character with male breast cancer, a foremost character. [Things like that are] getting males to be extra weak, extra comfy in talking to their associates about feelings, psychological health, and breast cancer. Men are usually not often comfy in talking about our health or feelings. If we predict it’s emasculating, we gained’t say something. We don’t go to the physician until we’re on our deathbed or our arm is dangling off. It’s one of many causes I waited so lengthy to go to the physician. I used to be like, “I’m not dying, so I should be good.”

We want extra docs in a bodily examination to do a breast exams on males, to take the time. We must give up listening to the “it’s only 1 percent excuse,” because it’s 30 seconds of your time to do the examination. That’s not value your time to do the examination that would save [your] life?

I met my girlfriend Tasha on Labor Day weekend  2011, on the restaurant the place we each labored.  She ran as much as my bar along with her identify and quantity on a chunk paper, threw it at me, and ran away. We simply bought married on Oct. 20 on the nation membership I’ve labored at since I used to be 15 years previous.

I used to be very open about being a breast cancer survivor from the start. I feel I cracked a couple of jokes about having just one nipple. At the very starting, I used to be self-conscious, however that rapidly went away. If somebody I met wasn’t comfy with who I’m and the way I look, we weren’t meant to be.

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