Advanced Breast Cancer: A Man’s Perspective
Being newly diagnosed with advanced breast cancer is a shock no less for men, than it is for women. Fortunately, Gary Wong, an Architect from Milpitas, San Jose region, is keen to raise awareness about the issues and challenges. His recent diagnosis and treatment fresh in his mind, Gary wants to support and educate his male breast cancer brothers.
Stage 4 breast cancer diagnosis
Gary was diagnosed in February 2019, aged 53. After feeling a lump behind the nipple, and in an armpit lymph node, biopsies proved positive for stage IV ER+, PR+, HER2- breast cancer. A subsequent scan confirmed metastasis to the lungs in two small spots.
Who was the first person you told?
My girlfriend. She is the one that supports me for eternity. She was the one that came to me and said we are in this together and would support me through it all. We have a very special bond.
What about your work colleagues and family?
All my clients now also know, and they are all supportive of me in making sure I am able to rest and not over-stress. I also have support from all my family, my sister and family, my brother and family, and Mom and Dad.
What are your biggest concerns and fears?
At the time, death, but once I publicly announced my diagnosis, I have not thought of this. I have been concerned more about avoiding further metastasis, by preventing further stress and concentrating on my diet and plenty of exercise.
What do you need in terms of help support?
Advice sometimes on some side effects. Suggestions on how to shrink my cancer.1 Articles and studies that show what has been able to reduce lymph node inflammation and also send the cancer into remission.
What information or resources do you need?
Clinical trials or other options for overcoming cancer. As well, what diets have been successful in reducing tumors, and the best stress-release methods.
How do you feel about awareness campaigns that ignore men?
More awareness is needed, definitely, and it’s an uphill battle. More men need to speak out to make a difference. A joint approach would be best, as cancer is not about men or women, rather more about beating cancer itself.
Do you feel stigmatized bout being a guy with breast cancer?
I don’t go out to women and clearly separate myself. When I talk to my friends with breast cancer, they are fully supportive. The women’s groups accept me because they are happy with my positive attitude that helps others in our situation.
How can you help other men with this disease?
Support with stories, experience, and a positive attitude to boost people’s emotions. I feel the push to help another brother be upbeat and happy about the journey and to inspire them to fight harder.
Connecting to other men with advanced breast cancer
Gary finds social media groups such as Facebook, Tiktok, and Twitter very useful for connecting with men. “My aim in life is to bring the insight of male breast cancer to all I meet. Also, to bring all that I encounter happiness, and show that the journey will end happily someday.”
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