Arnaldo Silva was diagnosed with Stage III breast cancer in 2007, and having a family history of the disease, was tested for the hereditary BRCA2 gene mutation—and discovered that he was a carrier. He sent his 32-year old daughter Vanessa and his 29-year old son to be tested. They were also both carriers. And more, Vanessa discovered that she also had breast cancer. Arnaldo and Vanessa went through treatment together, and Arnaldo began to understand that his courage in facing, and coming to terms with his own diagnosis, had given his daughter back her life.
Since then, both Arnaldo and Vanessa have endured multiple reoccurrences but are currently NED (no evidence of disease). They have become passionately committed to increasing male breast cancer awareness. In 2011, they were honored with the Eagle Fly Free Award from the Institute for the Advancement of Multicultural & Minority Medicine for their work as “survivors who have demonstrated extraordinary freedom, courage and strength from their encounter with breast cancer.” They were the inspiration (and cover photo for the brochure), for Susan G. Komen’s (North Jersey Affiliate) first formal Male Breast Cancer Awareness Campaign in 2012, and Arnaldo was invited to be Komen’s first Male Honorary Survivor Ambassador at the 2013 Race for the Cure. Arnaldo and Vanessa have also been honored as a Komen North Jersey Journey of Courage, an incredible photo essay of survivors who have bravely shared their stories to heighten awareness of the disease that touched their lives, and help ease the journey of others who are diagnosed with breast cancer.
Arnaldo and his daughter have been on ABC World News Tonight, Channel 5’s Dr. Fred, WCBS News, and NBC News, and been profiled extensively in the print and digital media including Woman’s Day, Black Enterprise, Parade, The New York Post, People, NPR, Essence, and NJ.com. Arnaldo uses his experience to help educate men about the risk of developing breast cancer, and meets with students and teachers at junior high and high schools to talk to them about their health and let them know that breast cancer is not just a woman’s disease.