A-Z

David C - Interview 12

Age at interview: 72
Age at diagnosis: 71
Brief Outline: Diagnosed with breast cancer in 2008. He had first noticed a lump on his breast as a young man, and 5-6 years it had grown again but a sudden growth in size had concerned him. His had a mastectomy, and was treated with radiotherapy and tamoxifen. Treatment was unproblematic but he developed a sarcoma in his wound that had to be drained.
Background: David is retired, he is single. He worked as a printer and computer operator. Ethnic background' White British (Scottish).

More about me...

 In his early twenties he first noticed a small lump in his breast. He squeezed it and managed to get some pus out of it. It caused no further problems for many years until 5-6 years before being diagnosed it grew again, then stopped. It did not change again for another few years until it grew to twice its original size very quickly. He then saw his GP who referred him quickly to a specialist. He was initially very frightened about his diagnosis, but was relieved it had not spread anywhere else in his body. A Macmillan nurse was very helpful and she allayed many of his fears.

 
He was found to have the BRCA genetic mutation. He does not have any children, but he told his cousin and warned her to ensure her family was aware and to check their breasts. 
 
He was open about his diagnosis with his friends, and found his female friends took an active interest and would ask questions. His male friends did not ask many questions and this frustrated him. There were a couple of people he did not tell because he thought they might make jokes about it. In general he relied on his own resources to get through the diagnosis and treatment. 
 
The specialist centre that he attends is a women’s centre and he found it difficult sitting in clinics surrounded by women. He had a good relationship with the breast care nurse and received information that was relevant to both men and women. He also searched the internet for information.
 
He has a keen interest in alternative therapies, particularly crystals, which he used to try to stimulate his white blood cells. He has changed his diet, and has eliminated caffeine and tries to eat organic food to keep well. 
 
 

David C was about 20 when he noticed a lump which he squeezed, releasing blood and pus. The lump...

David C was about 20 when he noticed a lump which he squeezed, releasing blood and pus. The lump...

SHOW TEXT VERSION
PRINT TRANSCRIPT

 It first started, oddly enough, about fifty years ago – I was twenty years old at the time, and I noticed I had a lump under my left nipple. I squeezed it and got some blood and puss out – but fifty years ago, nobody ever thought about male breast cancer. So I never thought any more about it. It hardened into a small lump, just behind the nipple, and it stayed like that for about forty odd years – as far as I can remember. And then, about five or six years ago, I’m not quite sure how long ago, it grew again, which I became a little bit concerned about – but it stopped growing. And I thought, well after forty-odd years, if that’s as much as it’ll do, it’s not worth bothering about. So just about eight months ago, it grew again overnight, and that’s when I got really worried. And I went down to the doctors the following day – and I got an appointment the following day. I was admitted to hospital about ten days later – very quickly. They had an emergency cancellation, and I got that instead, and I had a mastectomy, which was completely painless – no bother at all. Occasional, slight twinge, but over the entire period of time, I haven’t felt pain at all – there’s no problem with the pain or anything like that. Of course, I had the seroma which meant it grew up with fluid quite a lot of it, actually – a bit of a nuisance but no problem at all. I went in and got it drained. So that’s basically about as much of the story. The thing I want to get over is if you’ve, any male or female has a lump on their breast, go down, immediately, to the doctor – otherwise, if you delay it, of course, the cancer can spread.

 
So when you first noticed the problem when you were twenty, did you see a doctor then?
 
No.
 
No, why?
 
Being a typical male from [name of city], don’t go to doctors. Not a good idea.
 
Why?
 
Just in case I have something, a problem like cancer, like that – no, you’ve really ought to be sensible about these things and go to the doctors. Females are much more open and aware of these things – males aren’t, and they’re fairly sensitive about going to the doctors, or even believing that they’re ill.
 
What was it that changed overnight about it?
 
It just grew in size from about one centimetre to about two centimetres.
 
Right – was it painful?
 
It wasn’t in the least bit painful.
 
No, and there was no discharge from the nipple or anything?
 
No discharge – no blood, no discharge.
 
So it was just the fact that it got bigger?
 
Got bigger, yes.
 
How old were you the second time the lump came up?
 
I’d be about sixty-four, sixty-five, sixty-six, I think. My oncologist said it’s not possible that a lump can grow three times. The Macmillan nurse thought it might have been three separate lumps – but it wasn’t. I swear, it was just the one lump from fifty years ago, getting bigger a second time, and then finally getting bigger a third time. Whether it was cancerous the second time and it was slow, I don’t know. Or maybe it was even cancerous the first time – who knows, who knows?
 
So why didn’t you go to your GP when it grew the second time, then?
 
I waited about a week and it stopped, and I thought that’s eh, “if that’s all it can do in fifty years, that’s fine.”

Ok – so do you think it was more the rapidity of how much it grew overnight that shocked you into going?

Overnight. Yes, that’s what, eventually, very quickly, actually, made me think I have to go to the doctor and get this sorted out. 
 
 

David C describes having a mammogram, ultrasound, and biopsy. The type of ultrasound he had...

David C describes having a mammogram, ultrasound, and biopsy. The type of ultrasound he had...

SHOW TEXT VERSION
PRINT TRANSCRIPT

 Did you have a mammogram as a test?

 
Yes, and it was rather – it wasn’t painful, but I can imagine, if I’d been a female, it wouldn’t be very nice at all. I know some of my friends who say it’s not the nicest of things to happen to them.
 
Yeah. Can you remember all the tests they did? So they did a scan – I take it…
 
Ultrasound one, yes.
 
And that’s the one where you could see it was…
 
Could see all the blood beginning to form its own little blood supply. That was frightening.
 
Right. And then they did a mammogram as well?
 
Did a mammogram too.
 
Can you just explain what they did?
 
Well, it’s two metal plates – I think it’s an x-ray, and they try and squeeze the breast quite hard, and then it takes an x-ray of the breast, plus the lump itself, as well too, and then they can check to see if it’s cancerous. So it’s just one of the checks that they did to make sure it was a cancerous problem.
 
And they did a biopsy as well?
 
They did a biopsy as well, too.
 
Can you remember – was it just once in with a needle, or how did they do it?
 
They gave me a little injection, first, to freeze it, and then they used their little clipper and little thing to get samples of it, and I never felt a thing of that. Although I know one friend who said she was in agony with it, but something happened there – I don’t know what. Maybe she didn’t get the injection for some reason, I don’t know.
 
Right – and is that all the tests you had?
 
That’s all the tests I had.
 

David had a longstanding interest in ley lines and could use divining rods. He used crystals to...

David had a longstanding interest in ley lines and could use divining rods. He used crystals to...

SHOW TEXT VERSION
PRINT TRANSCRIPT

 How do the crystals make you better?

 
These crystals? They make me feel better. Cost me a thousand pounds, the big one, which didn’t make me feel too good when I was handing the cash over – but I find that they’re extraordinary things. They’re beautiful – one of nature’s beautiful creations.
 
But do you choose?
 
Special type of crystals?
 
Uh huh.
 
I’ve got a special type of crystal I put around my bed to stop these unhealthy energies coming in. It’s just an ordinary quartzite crystal with faceted at the sides, and I discovered the best thing to do is look up my internet site that gives you all my information about how earth energies work, how standing stones work and about demons and sort of things as well.
 
So is this something you’ve always been interested in, or since the breast cancer?
 
No, I’ve been interested in this for forty years. There was a program on Tomorrow’s World about forty years ago in how to use divining rods – a very scientific program. And I thought, you know. Lick a typical little [name of city], I thought, “Divining rods don’t work.” And I tried it at a standing stone, to my absolute horror, discovered I could pick up the energy from standing stones, which are actually placed above underground streams, and the energy goes up into the standing stone, which acts like, what do you call it, a prism, and then transmits the energy across to a burial ground – and you can very easily follow these sort of things.
 
Complementary therapies – I do have a crystals therapy set, which you can diagnose a person using this. This is [name of person] work again. It’s a sort of signal generator, which transmits energy into a crystal – you hold the crystals in your hand, and your whole body radiates at that specific frequency – and you can use a sound meter to diagnose various levels of ill health in your body, and you can also use it as treatment – you can put it on your body, which I did, around the hips, to stimulate the white blood cells – because the radiotherapy reduces the white blood cells, as far as I know, and you can use it, of course, on the wound as well too. I’m not entirely sure if it works or not, but it’s quite a fascinating thing – but you’ve got to try everything when you have a problem with ill health.
 
Did you feel, because you were doing that, though it helped you may be psychologically, that you were winning?
 
Oh yes, big psychological help, being able to do these things.
 
It sounds very much that you use conventional medicines as well – you weren’t dismissing anything.
 
Mm hmm.
 
Do you want to say anything about the two of them and how you feel they interact with each other?
 
They’re completely complementary. I wouldn’t advise anyone to go completely down the complementary road and ignore the radiotherapy, chemotherapy and so on – that’s not a good idea at all. 
 

David wouldn’t have wanted to go to a breast cancer group. He thought he might ‘suppress dialogue...

David wouldn’t have wanted to go to a breast cancer group. He thought he might ‘suppress dialogue...

SHOW TEXT VERSION
PRINT TRANSCRIPT

 When you went to the hospital, did the nurse ever offer you a chance to go to any support groups?

 
No, I don’t think so. I wouldn’t have went to a support group, anyway – I don’t think I need support.
 
Why not?
 
Because I’m strong enough to do it on my own.
 
You don’t think sharing ideas or symptoms?
 
Yes, but I have to share ideas and symptoms with any males, and there’s very few of them around.
 
So if she said, “I’ve got a male support group,”
 
Mm, yes.
 
Would you have been interested in going to that?
 
I probably would have went to see that.
 
What do you think the differences would be between a women’s group and a men’s group?
 
Women, it’s much more intense – it’s a tremendous problem for a female, having breast problems. For a male, it doesn’t bother me at all, not in the slightest – not interested.
 
Do you think you’d have felt you were intruding a wee bit?
 
To females? Yeah, I would probably feel I was intruding a little bit. I would probably, if I was in a female group, they probably wouldn’t be the same. I would probably suppress their dialogue.
 
Because, I suppose you’ve had breast cancer, just like they’ve had breast cancer.
 
Yeah, but my breasts don’t mean anything to me at all.
 
They don’t?
 
No, nothing at all.
 

David chose not to tell a few men who might have a ‘nasty’ reaction. He was pleased when women...

David chose not to tell a few men who might have a ‘nasty’ reaction. He was pleased when women...

SHOW TEXT VERSION
PRINT TRANSCRIPT

 No – I have found that males just say, “oh yes,” and change the conversation. They’re either not interested or they don’t want to know. I think they’re not interested. Females are entirely different – as soon as they hear about it, they’re almost invariably horrified and interested as well too, and supportive.

 
Did they ask you more questions than men did?
 
Oh yes – the men didn’t want to, most of them didn’t want to know.
 
Right – how did that make you feel?
 
A bit annoyed. As I say, I’m trying to get over to the males to be careful of these things – but they’ve got it in their minds now, so I would imagine that if they do have a problem there, they’ll think back on the conversation and do something about it.
 
What sort of questions did the women have?
 
Well, one wanted to feel my seroma, she’s a nurse and she wanted to feel it – she was fascinated by it. I know one or two nurses, and they’re all fascinated by this sort of thing. They just asked me about the side effects of tamoxifen and, you know, the radiotherapy and all that sort of thing.
 
Right, so they like the gory details, did they?
 
Yeah, uh huh yeah, because they could very easily have the same problem at some point.
 
Do you think that’s why they were asking, because they could identify that something…
 
Oh yes they could yeah. Yes. It always shocks them when I tell them about that.
]
And how does that make you feel, when they’re asking you these questions?
 
I’m interested, I’m interested in lots of things.
 
So are you quite pleased, then, that they take an interest and they’re willing to sort of talk about things?
 
Yes, uh huh yeah, yes. And some people, when I’m telling, they suddenly disclose that they’ve had cancer of some sort or other, which they normally wouldn’t have done if I hadn’t approached the subject.
 
Right – so this is people that you’ve known for a while, that you didn’t realise they had been going through cancer at some point?
 
Yeah.
 
Why do you think they hadn’t disclosed that?
 
They probably wanted to keep it to themselves until I triggered it off, and they said, “Oh, I’ve had that problem.” Not male breast cancer, various other types of cancer.
 
Is this men and women?
 
Men and women, yeah.
 
I think you being so open about having breast cancer is a great thing because, as you says, it starts conversation and…
 
Mm hmm, awareness.
 
Uh huh, awareness about it. Do you ever not tell people?
 
No, well there’s one or two people I know perfectly well, if I told them that, they’d probably laugh, you know. There’s some nasty people in the world, as you may know? I don’t tell them. Obviously I keep them at bay.
 
Do you think they would make jokes because you’re a man with breast cancer?
 
Yeah. They would, but that’s life. There’s some nasty people, as I say.

Is that men and women like that?

No, no – just men, I would imagine.

And why do you think they’re like that?

Because they’re unpleasant people and they’re always trying to be nasty, and that’s one good way of being nasty. But I haven’t had anybody being nasty to me so far.

Ok – so there are some people, then, that you’ve chosen not to tell?

Em… Yes. I would say yes, uh huh.

Right. Are these men that make jokes, I mean, you’re saying they’re just very unpleasant people, but do you think they’d want to make jokes because you’re a man? You know, they would try and pull you down, take your self esteem away?

Mm hmm.

Right.

So we just don’t bother about them at all.
 
Previous Page
Next Page