Breast cancer is not just a woman's disease

Breast cancer patient Dan Miller
Breast cancer patient Dan Miller. Photo courtesy of Dan Miller

My mother had it. My grandmother had it. My cousins had it.

So many women in my family have had breast cancer that eight years ago, right before we had our first child, I was tested for the BRCA-2 gene mutation and it came back positive. As a man, that meant a higher chance for colon, prostate and breast cancer, but breast cancer, frankly, was not something I was really worried about.

Then, just about two months ago I was recovering from a bowel resection for lifelong Crohn's disease and discovered a hard mass in my left breast. My wife insisted I immediately go to see my primary care who, after declaring male breast cancer highly fatal, referred me to get a mammogram to rule it out. Unfortunately, it didn't rule it out.

The diagnosis of Stage 2-A breast cancer in my left breast was rendered and we have been on the journey since then. Because my breast cancer is ER- and PR-positive and HER2 positive, chemotherapy comes first for me, followed by a mastectomy (likely a double, because why not) and then potentially radiation (although there is little to no data that says do it or don't do it for men in this situation).

Breast cancer is NOT just a woman's disease. While the majority of cases are obviously women, there are men out there that are going through the same treatments, same challenges, and benefiting from the same research. My hope is that more research is done for men specifically so our treatments can be tailored for us in the future.

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