By Stephen Sala
In early August this year, the day before my family and I were headed to Myrtle Beach on vacation, I discovered a small lump on my right chest. I was a bit concerned, but decided it could wait until I returned from vacation. I scheduled a physical for the following week with my primary doctor. He told me not to worry. He said it was probably a cyst, but scheduled an ultrasound for me to be sure. At the ultrasound I could tell the nurses seemed concerned. I was sent for a mammogram the same day. The doctor told me the lump wasn’t just a cyst after all and I would need a needle biopsy. A week after the biopsy, which was the day after Labor Day, my wife and I received the news I had breast cancer. I was one of 1000 men diagnosed with breast cancer.
As a 41-year-old dad of three children, I elected to have a bilateral mastectomy even though the genetic tests for BRCA 1/2 mutations were negative. This was a choice my wife and I made to reduce my risk of recurrence on my left side.
After my surgery on October 4th, the doctor told me the pathology results indicated I had early stage cancer in my left breast too. Thankfully, we received wonderful news my margins were clear and the tumors in both breasts were gone. We are still waiting to learn if the results of my MammoPrint to determine the likelihood of my tumor to reoccur, which will determine if I need chemotherapy.
Initially I struggled with the fact I had male breast cancer and was telling everyone I had a tumor on my chest. It took a few weeks to fully accept I had what most people perceived as a women’s disease.
My breast cancer was caught early and it is a non-aggressive, non-genetic tumor. I am lucky. I believe through the work I do with Bringing Hope Home, Kisses for Kyle and some other cancer organizations, it made me aware of this horrible disease and prompted me to get my lump addressed. I believe this awareness has helped me, and my doctors, detect my tumor at a very early stage. My prognosis is very optimistic!
Now I started posting my story and journey on social media to raise male breast cancer awareness and to educate people about this disease which does not discriminate. Breast cancer can be a very treatable disease when detected early, but most men wait too long because they don’t understand this can happen to men and women.
MEN HAVE BREASTS TOO!
The day before my surgery was my twins’ 11th birthday. We took a family trip to New York and happened to meet a few breast cancer survivors at the Today Show. During the taping I noticed one man, Michael Singer, who was a six-year survivor. I had a lengthy conversation with Michael that day and we exchanged information. It was fate that brought me to Michael on October 3rd in a city of millions of people. He introduced me to the Male Breast Cancer Coalition and the family at MBCC has provided me support through this difficult time.