Diagnosed with breast cancer in 2008, after initially being a bit reluctant to go to the doctor. He had a mastectomy, followed by radiotherapy and tamoxifen which he felt was responsible for him gaining some weight.
John P was having a shower and happened to look in the mirror and thought that his right nipple seemed smaller and flatter than his left nipple. He checked it again a few days later but said he didn’t take too much notice of it being a male;. In retrospect he thought there was some discharge which had made his nipple slightly dry and crusty.
A few weeks later he mentioned it to his wife who looked at it and told him to get it checked out. Sometime later his daughter commented on his nipple when he was working in the garden bare-chested. She also told him to get it checked up and that it was possible for men to get breast cancer. He already knew this because his wife had talked about a couple of men with breast cancer that she had met during her work in a hospital.
Although he knew that men could get breast cancer, he says it didn’t register that he could have breast cancer. A nurse saw his chest whilst he was attending for a routine blood pressure check and suggested that he make an appointment with the GP. The GP arranged a very rapid hospital appointment for him for a biopsy and mammogram, and a week later he was told that they had found cancerous cells. He went on a pre-booked holiday before going to hospital for his mastectomy.
After he was discharged he needed to go back to the hospital every couple of days for a while to get fluid that was building up drained. At this time he sometimes felt as if he wished he had never gone to the doctor – he felt sometimes that he was always at the hospital whereas before his only problem was a flat nipple. The regular trips to hospital for radiotherapy also made him feel that the illness was taking over this life.
He had great support from his wife and family, and from the breast care nurses. He felt that he could phone them up anytime he was worried about anything. Initially he sometimes felt self-conscious about taking his shirt off in public, but his granddaughter’s positive reaction helped him to get over this. He had some mixed feelings about telling people about his cancer. On the one hand he wanted people to know that men could get breast cancer, but they sometimes seemed to feel embarrassed and not know what to say when he told them. One of his male friends struggled to get his head around; the fact that men could get breast cancer. He feels that breast cancer in men should get more publicity and sometimes feels annoyed about it, but he also thinks that it must be devastating for a woman to lose a breast. His experience of having night sweats whilst taking tamoxifen and having mammograms meant that he felt he could have some sympathy with women having these experiences.