As one of the lone male writers on a site for moms you would think I should be the last person writing about my own experience with breast cancer—and yet you'd be wrong. My wife often says that our lives could be sitcoms in the way that they play out, and so the uncanny timing of finding a nodule in my chest the week that I signed up to join TeamYMC and the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation's Run for the Cure is not at all lost on me. Nor is the fact that I wrote the following on Facebook:
... when in fact it's entirely possible that perhaps all of those women should be running for me!
What started out as a bit of tenderness around one of my nipples in early August became a bit more of a concern when it did not dissipate after a couple of weeks. A quick trip to my doctor and he assured me I had obviously irritated my ribs playing hockey. "Here's a handful of anti-inflamatory pills," and "Call me in a week if it's still bugging you." As that week wore on with little to no change I became more concerned and I started feeling around to see what I could possibly find wrong with my irritated ribcage. And-then-I-felt-it. A small nodule about 3 cm below my left nipple. Hard. Painful. Sore. But wait—guys don't get lumps in their breasts? Do they? And so back to the doctor I trudged, and sure enough, he agreed. I had a nodule. "Not to be concerned," he says. "I'd bet my house it's benign," he assures. And he hurries me along for an ultra sound booked at the end of this week.
The fact that my doctor had to fill out a form that boldly declares "Women's Health" at the top it with a diagram of fairly shapely female breasts pretty much summarizes everything there is to say on the topic. We're all completely biased in classifying this type of issue as that reserved for women only. No one is handing out leaflets in the locker room at hockey about checking your chest for lumps when you shower. No one has an "I'm running for Dad" tshirt in the Run for the Cure ad spots.
Now, the fact is that male breast cancer accounts for only 1 to 5% of all cases of breast cancer. So, the odds are entirely in my favour that my doctor is correct and this is completely benign. But yet I find myself waking up at odd times during the night in a cold sweat. And I find myself hugging my kids a little tighter and a little longer. Because...what if?
So while I'd like to tell you that I'm doing the run for all of the wonderful ladies in my life, I'm also running a little bit for myself. I'm also doing the run for any other men out there who may encounter what we've all classified as a Women's Health issue. I hope you'll take a couple minutes out of your day to help support a very real and very meaningful charity.