I was a 55-year-old white male, married 35 years with two children and two grandchildren. One day in September 2019, I felt something on my left breast right below my areola while I was showering. I asked my wife to give me her opinion. I also noticed a slight downturn, or pull in, of my nipple. After she felt it, she said I had a lump and needed to see a doctor.
I called my wife’s breast doctor who happens to be a co-founder of The Rose in Houston, TX. Since my wife and her mother are both patients of this doctor, she was familiar with me, too. She examined my breasts and lymph nodes. She ordered a mammogram and ultrasound. I was a little nervous about the mammogram. The day of the tests the tech called “Mrs. Morris”. I stood up and we both giggled a bit. My doctor looked at the ultrasound onsite and ordered a biopsy. Three days after my biopsy, I was called to come in that same afternoon. When the doctor’s office calls and asks you to come in right away…I’m not lying, I was scared.
We met with the doctor, and she told me I had invasive ductal carcinoma grade 2 (stage 2) breast cancer. She told us we would be set up with a surgeon at MD Anderson Cancer Center. Three hours later MDA called and scheduled an appointment for the following week with oncology. We met on Oct. 18, where I had another exam and more tests ordered including genetics, mammogram, ultrasound, X-ray, and blood tests. During my ultrasound, they noticed 3 lymph nodes that were not right and immediately conducted a needle biopsy of them. The oncologist later informed me that all 3 were normal.
I have three aunts with breast cancer and two uncles with prostate and colon cancer, so my risk was certainly elevated. My genetic testing came back negative for any mutations. How did I get breast cancer?
On Oct. 31, we again met with the surgeon and decided on a single mastectomy to be done Nov. 20 at MDA. The surgery went well. My surgeon removed my left breast and two lymph nodes. I went home with a drain tube on my left side. My surgeon stated the cancer had not spread outside of my breast.
The results of my ONCO test showed that chemotherapy would be my best course of treatment. Chemo could bring down the chance of reoccurrence into the 12% range. Those were good odds to me.
My port for chemotherapy was inserted Jan. 8, 2020, and on Jan. 9 I had my first infusion of chemo. I was given AC, also known as the Red Devil. I had 4 rounds of the Red Devil, one every three weeks. On April 13, I started the second round of chemo which had 12 doses, one dose a week for 12 weeks. I finished this in June. My port was removed, and I began my five years of hormone therapy.
I have shared my story about my breast cancer at several events. Although difficult, I felt it necessary to ensure that men were aware of male breast cancer. Since I started talking about it where I work, two employees have asked for my doctor’s number because they felt something.
I have just finished my third year of post chemotherapy and, aside from a few minor side effects, I am still cancer free. I have retired from the plant and spend as much time with my family as I can.