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Male Breast Cancer

gossy29gossy29 Mornington Peninsula, VictoriaMember Posts: 6
Hi All,
I feel a little out of place here, and yet it feels like the right place to be chatting. Its very unusual in men but I was diagnosed with what I now know was a stage two breast cancer on Christmas eve last year.  I've since been through 6 months of chemo, mastectomy and axillary clearance and am 5 days into a 25 day radiotherapy course.  My oncologist tells me my prognosis is quite good really, she showed me a prognosis tool called "Predict Breast" that says 10 year survival rate for a cancer of my type and size is 90%.  I have to say though that the biggest challenge for me so far has been in my head.  The fear of recurrence is so persistent.  Does anyone have any good tips for coping mechanisms?
Thanks
Danny

Comments

  • RomlaRomla AdelaideMember Posts: 2,082
    @gossy29 welcome !  I get where you’re coming from. It changes the way you feel about yourself esp knocks your confidence. I was ok thru treatment but once over being left to resume life was tough.

     I struggled and hit a low point. I contacted the Cancer Council who arranged a phone call with a person who had the same cancer as me years ago who reassured me that my life would go on . 

    From that moment I started investigating what was out there to help me find my feet. I joined the BCNA blog , I joined a breast cancer support group and learned about programs that were available to help us eg Otis - free holidays , YWCA hydrotherapy class. It’s important to start to look outwards and is hard. I remember clearly seeing people from the breast cancer group shopping and having coffee locally - it helped me realise my life was not over.

    It maybe a bit harder as you are a bloke with a disease more common to women but we have a common problem and we all pull together. It took courage probably to speak up on the blog so that’s a great first step.There probably will be times when blokey point of view  is important. On the blog there is group on rhs for Men living with breast cancer which may help start that process. Btw I learned recently that the Star Trek actor William Shatner had breast cancer 20 years ago - he is enjoying life.

    You will stumble and fumble a bit until you find your feet again. You will need support and many on here will help . Breast cancer support services may have bigger female populations but we have a common bond .You will find anxiety will ease over time with occasional blips at scan time - we call it scananxiety but life really does go on and you do pick up the threads of your former life just maybe with a slightly different perspective.

    I have rattled on a bit but hope it helps. Best wishes and welcome to the Paddle store !




  • RomlaRomla AdelaideMember Posts: 2,082
    @gossy29 remember one thing you are not alone - there are many of us.We can all help get each other back on our feet.
  • arpiearpie Mid North Coast, NSWMember Posts: 4,915
    edited October 2020
    Hi @gossy29

    Welcome to the club that no-one really wants to join!  Here, You can raise ANY issue, and get helpful replies from those who’ve gone before you - and we have other male members too, so you are not alone, Danny.  Nothing is off limits.  There is a Group for Men Living with Breast Cancer that you may like to join where you can raise ANY topic .... 

    Your prognosis is good - so that is a BIG WIN!  You've already done the hard yards .... all the best with your Rads - just make sure you keep the lotions & potions up to the area and hopefully you won't succumb to skin break down.  Will you be on hormone tablets afterwards as well?

    As you say - I also found that it mucked with my BRAIN more than anything else!  And sometimes that is very hard to control, as it has a mind of its own! I believe that Keeping BUSY doing things is the main secret .... get back into your hobbies or take up a new one (if you are retired) or getting back into your work routine if you are able to - even more so now with Covid as we can’t get together with buddies as readily as before.
    It is totally 100% ok to skip between anger, denial, sadness - but if your find the sadness/anxiety is overwhelming you, please seek professional help! Your GP may be able to refer you ... or your local Breast Cancer Centre May have help there ....  Just talking about it openly and sharing it with a professional - they should be able to give you coping mechanisms ... 

    We all know the absolute turmoil that comes with the bc diagnosis .... Your whole world is turned upside down in a millisecond, as you navigate unknown areas of our health system! It is almost a conveyor belt! First you do this, then this, then go there and do that, then come back here and do this .... and it may take a year or two for your life to settle down again.  Then suddenly, you are 'on your own' -  and this can be daunting & it is when your mind may go into overdrive .....

    Try & keep your sense of humour 'up there' - we have a really good 'funnies page' (called Friday Funnies, but we add them every day!!). 
    https://onlinenetwork.bcna.org.au/discussion/19116/friday-funnies#latest

    If you are into arts & crafts, we have a 'Creative Corner' - are you into wood working/art at all?  We'd love to see it.
    https://onlinenetwork.bcna.org.au/discussion/14979/creative-corner#latest

     and if into your garden, a Gardening post as well!! 
    https://onlinenetwork.bcna.org.au/discussion/comment/186078#Comment_186078

    And we now have a Fishing post, as that is one of my passions!
    https://onlinenetwork.bcna.org.au/discussion/19494/fishing-brag-pics

    Try not to use Dr Google as there is just so much conflicting information out there, and every BC case is 'unique' and it will only scare the pants off you!

    All the best with your ongoing appointments & treatment.  We have some posts here on what to take with you to your 'anniversary appointments', to make it 'easier' on you to 'tick the boxes'.  
    https://onlinenetwork.bcna.org.au/discussion/16442/prep-for-surgery/p1

    I've just had my 3rd year checkups last week and have a phone consult with my Rad Onc next week ..... I am not expecting anything untoward ....

    Take care, stay well   xx
  • gossy29gossy29 Mornington Peninsula, VictoriaMember Posts: 6
    Thank you so much for your replies, it is so good to read them and read about people who are still living long and happy lives after their diagnosis/treatment.  I have read everywhere that regular exercise can have a profound effect on recurrence so I am keeping busy walking and I do have alot to keep me busy, a young family, work and study. I forgot to mention that I am already on Tamoxifen, I have been on that for approx 1 month and so far only very few side effects.  I might be a little bit headachey but will need more time to be sure its from the tamoxifen.  I have also seen a Psych a couple of times to help get my head in a good place.  It has certainly helped, but I'm not sure I'll go again, I feel like faith is important for me from here.

    Thanks again for each of your comments, its such good advice and I will have a look around the forums and try to contribute where I can.
  • arpiearpie Mid North Coast, NSWMember Posts: 4,915
    edited October 2020
    Well done - It sounds like you are doing all the right things, Danny ..... so keep doing what you are doing!   I hope you don't get any side effects from the Tamoxifen!   I am glad you've already taken advice from a psych .... just keep an eye on your anxiety levels etc.

    @traveltext is one of our male members - he may be able to connect you with other male members here.

    Along the way, you may find that some of your family & friends believe 'it is all over' now that you've had your surgery, chemo, (ongoing) rads and now the tabs - and expect you to be the 'same as before' .... when in reality, it can affect you 'mentally' for a year or two - and rarely the same again. You may even lose some friends (I think that some almost think it is even catchy & stay away!)  But you'll also pick up some new friends, even possibly from this site.   Last year, I met up with a fellow member from Derby, WA in Darwin & we had a week of hilarity up there!  We are looking forward to doing it again - but Covid has prevent it happening this year!

    BTW - what state are you in? You can add the state/town in your Profile - and with a bit of luck, meet up with fellow members for a coffee & a chat if there are any in your area.  Are you aware that as a Breast Cancer patient, you can access a 'free' holiday from Otis Foundation? Wonderful caring members of the public make their Holiday Homes available to Breast Cancer patients (except for weekends & School Holidays) and there are houses available in most states.  They may (or may not) be available during this Covid Shutdown - I haven't checked ... but well worth checking out for a later date.  Check out their website: http://www.otisfoundation.org.au

    cheers & take care xx
  • June1952June1952 Member Posts: 1,159
    Welcome @gossy29 - and what a lovely part of the world you live in.  No doubt some of the male members will be in touch with you.
    Congratulations for going along to the doctor as so many men have that head in the sand attitude.  Your partner and children must be proud of you.
    Goodness, you have a full life and I am guessing much of your study is computer-based ?  I wonder what course you are doing ?
    My hubby is not afraid to go to the doctor although he never used to go.  Once we married and he discovered I have the 2 year blood tests etc, as us women do, he decided to go with me for his tests (not that a particular one delighted him !).  I am proud of him for being proactive. 
  • SisterSister Adelaide Hills, SAMember Posts: 4,938
    Just chiming in with "welcome" @gossy29 . You are definitely not out of place but perhaps a bit outnumbered  :)  Good to have the blokes on board - if we don't hear your voices, we don't know what you've got to say.
  • gossy29gossy29 Mornington Peninsula, VictoriaMember Posts: 6
    Hi June and Sister,
    Thanks for your messages, yes June I feel very fortunate to have got my lump checked again. I had the lump checked a while back and had an ultrasound on it, at the time they told me it was just a cyst....harmless.  Fast forward a couple of years and while it didn't feel any different, it was still there.  While I was at the docs for something else, I asked him to check it again, "just to be sure".  Another ultrasound and this time bad news.  In a sense I feel extremely lucky as I could easily be walking around right now blissfully unware, and I feel I may have just got it in time.
    I am studying to teach in secondary schools and am about 3/4 of the way through a Masters of Teaching.  Its taken a bit of a back seat this year though as I went through treatment.

    Thanks again for your messages, its really nice to see people who have been through what I have (so far) and are living healthy lives again.  To be honest, when I was first diagnosed I thought I was cooked :(

    Cheers
    Danny
  • AfraserAfraser MelbourneMember Posts: 3,519
    ‘Cooked’ is what most of us thought at the start! It takes a while, for many of us, to realise that we are not! Luckily it’s usually a really busy time, with lots of other stuff going on. So you can’t dwell on it too much. Then you realise you may still be around for a while, possibly a long while! But when the fear has abated and life seems much more normal, thinking about living with that heightened sense of mortality can be a worthwhile thing to do. Best wishes. 
  • SisterSister Adelaide Hills, SAMember Posts: 4,938
    You are incredibly lucky that it was picked up on the second time around and good on you for being proactive.  A lot of guys (and many women) don't get checked or when they do, have it dismissed, until it's very advanced.
  • MicheleRMicheleR South AustraliaMember Posts: 301
    Welcome and all the best. 
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