As a male breast cancer survivor, I could not agree more with the Stat commentary by Vivian Kobusingye Birchall in the Nov. 5 Ideas section (“How about a little blue in the ribbons for breast cancer awareness?”).
About 1 in 800 men are estimated to be at risk of breast cancer in their lifetime. There is probably a much greater number of men who ignore a lump or other abnormality. We might think it is from a bump into something, the garden rake snapping up and catching us, or an elbow caught during a basketball game.
I was one who ignored it, even ignored my longtime doctor’s initial direction. Only because he refused to take no for an answer did I dodge what could have been something much more severe.
Birchall’s suggestion to add just a bit of blue to the pink ribbon is a start. Hospitals and clinics need to embrace men as well. In my experience, I felt out of place at first. The information and posters were directed at women; even the magazines in the waiting area targeted women. It was as if breast cancer never happened to men.
During the nearly five years since my surgery, I have seen a change, but not enough. We need boys and young men to be told that they should check themselves; we need public service announcements on prevention aimed at men and women at sporting events and other venues; most of all, we should ensure that men also get the message, “If you feel something, say something (to your doctor).”
I was fortunate because I listened in time and I have a great medical team. So let’s add a little blue to the ribbon and to education and messaging.