Ben was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 2003 and had surgery and tamoxifen which he discontinued after having a deep vein thrombosis. Had a second diagnosis of breast cancer in 2006 and further surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy.
Ben first felt a lump near his left nipple whilst washing in the bath. He consulted his doctor about the lump straight away. The doctor thought that it was fatty tissue but referred him for a biopsy which showed that he had cancer. He had already booked a holiday which he went on before being admitted for surgery. As well as removing the lump he had 3 lymph nodes removed which were all clear. At this stage he had no radiotherapy or chemotherapy. He started on tamoxifen which he took for 3 years, but he had to stop taking it after having a deep vein thrombosis.
Ben was then prescribed Arimadex which he took for about a year but he stopped taking it because he felt that it made him very aggressive and emotional. He started a course of Zoladex, although initially he had been told that he would not be able to have this treatment because it was expensive. He discovered another lump closer to his armpit in 2006. This was also removed and he then had chemotherapy, followed by radiotherapy which he finished in 2006. He was initially offered a cold cap to minimize hair loss but when he first went along for his chemotherapy the nurses advised him that he would find it very cold because his hair was so short. He found the first few doses of chemotherapy quite easy to deal with but then had some problems with his veins. He found the worst side effect of chemotherapy to be pains in his arms.
Ben, as a health and safety officer, had known that men could get breast cancer before his diagnosis. He didn’t feel too shocked when he was given his diagnosis but thought he just had to get on with it; and be positive. He has been very open about his diagnosis and is not self-conscious about his scar. Like many of the men with breast cancer, he talked about how the information he was given was very much geared towards women not men.