Male breast can­cer shock

Matamata Chronicle - - Front Page - By TERESA HATTAN

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

thought

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.

Symp­toms

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.

Photo: TERESA HATTAN

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.

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