Male breast cancer shock
Breast cancer never crossed Jamie Cox’s mind.
The Matamata man simply thought he had a cyst or some sort of infection on his nipple. ‘‘It was just a lump that showed up on my nipple. It got bigger,’’ Jamie says.
Partner Marie Waring said the lump had hung around for a few years.
The 33-year-old hadn’t paid the lump much attention until it began to turn scabby. ‘‘The skin started to change on the outside,’’ Jamie says.
That’s when he
he’d better get it checked.
Being a male and having a diagnosis of breast cancer was certainly shocking for the fit and previously healthy young man.
Most people are unaware that breast cancer can occur in men. About 20 men in New Zealand are diagnosed with breast cancer each year. On average there are two cases of male breast cancer through Waikato Hospital annually. The men are generally aged over 50. Jamie was only 32 when diagnosed.
Those first few days after being diagnosed are a blur for him. ‘‘We got told so much stuff that it all went over my head.’’
It was still six weeks until he had a mastectomy. ‘‘It was still quite a while to think about it being there but that was the quickest they could do it obviously.’’
Surgeons removed his breast, nipple and some lymph nodes. He had a month off work after the surgery as complications developed with the wound.
Reconstruction was an option, but Jamie decided against this. ‘‘I’m not worried about it.’’
For Jamie and Marie, laughter
How common is breast cancer in men?
About 1 per cent of all breast cancers are in men. In New Zealand, about 20 men are diagnosed with breast cancer each year.
Early signs of breast cancer can include: A lump or lumpiness Thickening of the tissue, nipple changes or a rash Skin dimpling A change in shape A painful area A rash or red marks which appear only on the breast. It is important that men see their doctor promptly if they notice any new changes in their breast as a benign (non-cancerous) enlargement due to hormonal influences is not uncommon, particularly in adolescents, young men and over 60-year-old men.
Source: Cancer Society NZ
has played a big part in the cancer process. ‘‘I think we’ve always had a joke about it. Especially with losing his hair. He’s shaved it off and so far the eyebrows are still there. I joked that I was going to draw angry eyebrows on him if he wants to growl the kids,’’ Marie says.
‘‘He talks about how it must affect a woman. It’s different, men can shave their hair off, shave their beard off and it doesn’t matter but for a woman it’s a whole different ball game.’’
Jamie was offered wigs. ‘‘I’ve always had short hair so it didn’t really bother me too much.’’
The keen sportsman has had two rounds of chemotherapy and is handling it well so far. Chemotherapy will last a total of six months, before he then has a week of radiation. He will then be on a hormone drug for up to five years.
He says the doctors treat male breast cancer very similarly to female breast cancer.
Jamie describes the whole process to date as ‘‘ pretty scary’’.
He says he soon realised he had to deal with it, accept it and carry on. ‘‘You do what you need to do and follow the advice of your doctors.’’
He now hopes to warn other men that breast cancer is a very real threat to their health.
Although it is rare, Jamie now wants to make sure men know what to look out for.
Marie agrees. She believes there possibly aren’t many cases of male breast cancer because men could simply brush it off.
‘‘There is lots out there on women’s breast cancer but you don’t hear anything about male breast cancer. I do think it’s important for everyone, young and old, to check. If it can happen to us it can happen to anyone.’’
The couple thanked many people for their support, including Natalie Gaskill and the team from the Matamata Swifts, who organised a fundraiser for Jamie on June 13 at the football club, raising more than $5000.
The pair say they’ve been ‘‘ super lucky’’ with all the help, especially from friends and family. Jaime McIntyre has also been a big help.
Due to the rarity of a young male having breast cancer, Jamie has undergone genetic testing to see if he carries the BRCA gene. This could be hereditary so if positive, precautions will be put in place for his daughter Chloe.
Matamata man Jamie Cox, centre, with his family, from left, Hunter Logie, 10, Jake Peters, 16, Chloe Cox, 1, partner Marie Waring, Hayden Logie, 8, and Mason Logie, 11.