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Breast cancer survivor stories: ‘Typical male ... I ignored it’

Editor’s note: October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and the Chicago Sun-Times invited breast cancer survivors to share their stories. We’ll share these first-person accounts throughout the month.

I guess I’m not technically a survivor yet. I was diagnosed with breast cancer on Aug. 1. I’ve recently had my surgery (I call it my mansectomy). I am the one guy in 1,500 who gets breast cancer every year.

My story involves letting other men know that the possibility is there that men can get breast cancer too. I began noticing a lump in my chest a few years ago; my wife says it’s been longer than that. Typical male, I didn’t think anything about it and wasn’t in any pain, so why go to see a doctor? The lump seemed to change shapes and some days it would hurt and other days it wouldn’t. I ignored it.

This is where I am very lucky. I don’t know what finally made me go see my wife’s doctor. Just had a feeling. So thankful that I did. Went on July 28 and the doctor sent me to a surgeon Aug. 1. Yes ladies, I do now know what a mammogram feels like … lol. Then they took biopsies, and two days later the surgeon calls me into his office to let me know that I have breast cancer.

After endless exams and prods and probes, my bladder and prostate were cleared, and the surgery to remove my left breast was performed. It was discovered that the cancer had just started to spread to my lymph nodes. It had just reached the first two central lymph nodes, so I had them removed as well. I began my chemotherapy last week and over the next three months I will continue to receive treatments. Doctors still are not sure why it had not spread over such a long period, but like I said, I’m one of the lucky ones.

Thanks to all my doctors and nurses at Lutheran General. I will survive.

Men, get checked!

Tim Nicol, River Grove