By Reginald Maddox
My wife was feeling on my chest when she found a lump. I vaguely knew that the lump was there, but I thought that it was a pimple due to years of acne problems. I return from Afghanistan completing a deployment. I was due to go through a post-deployment physical. My wife made me promise her that I would mention the bump (small lump) on the left side of my chest. I said the lump to the attendant, and she noted it in her notes. The physician stated that I might need to do a biopsy which I did. As the physician was conducting the biopsy, we were joking that it is probably a cyst and had no reason to worry. Well, two weeks later, while out in California, I called the physician. He had left a message to call him on the previous Friday afternoon so, it was Monday morning when I returned his phone call. He stated to me, “the biopsy that we took, the results came back positive for cancer.”
I was diagnosed March 6, 2012, at the age of 45.
I notice the bump (small lump) on the left side of my chest. Other than that, there were no other symptoms.
I underwent mastectomy and sentinel lymph node biopsy on April 4, 2012. Chemotherapy followed the mastectomy. I am currently taking Tamoxifen, which I was initially told to take for five years starting in August 2012 and ending in August 2017. Well, I am still taking Tamoxifen per new medical research.
I took the process seriously. Went through the mastectomy to remove the lump and some lymph nodes. It did not help the efforts to recover from this when on the day after undergoing a mastectomy, I found out that I had the latent bug of TB.
The chemotherapy was the most challenging part of the process that would, at some point, left me in the bed for days, losing my appetite and taste. I was resilient during the entire process.
I had two genetic examinations performed on me. One was in May 2012 and the second, October 2017. The first test stated that there was no mutation detected. The second test said that there was uncertain significance.
I was in denial that I had breast cancer, I thought that it was a mix-up. It just happens to be an older gentleman that underwent a biopsy during the same time that I underwent a biopsy. My initial thought that they had a mix-up with the results. It was his biopsy results that were positive, and my effects were adverse.
It was shocking to family members. They did, however, provide support and encouragement.
I was (and still is) an active-duty officer (engineer officer) in the U.S. Army National Guard Full time. At that time, I was a Facility Manager Engineer monitoring and overseeing Army National Guard projects in seven states in the central part of the United States.
My friends/colleagues supported me at the same time; they were shocked. Initially, I was embarrassed to tell them. One of my friends flew out to California about a week after my diagnosis. He was there for the weekend. We went to a hockey game and hung out. I did not disclose the news that I had breast cancer. It was not until I return to Virginia two weeks later that I told him.
My breast cancer diagnosis impacted my life, by allowing me to appreciate life more. To take steps regarding exercising more and eating healthier. I have gained a new respect for anyone that finds out that they have breast cancer, both men and women.
My support system, before getting in contact with Peggy Miller, family and friends supported me, and no other organization. I had no one that shared my experience being a male and having breast cancer.
I want people to know first and foremost, men do get breast cancer. Instead of only acknowledging Women during Breast Cancer Month, they should also seek out the men that are affected by the disease. It psychologically affects men as well. Maybe not the same but it does have its effects.
I want people to know I have been tagged as a resilient individual by coworkers and supervisors. I am a hard worker. Love to work out, going to the gym, jogging/running, reading in my spare time, and like to travel.