CONTACT JOAN CONTACT JOAN

Darrell Skaggs

BREAST CANCER DOES NOT EXCLUDE MEN

When most people think of breast cancer, they think of it being a women's disease. While they are right about 99% of the time men can get it too, and the challenges of beating it are just as great.

I’m from Brownsburg Indiana. I always thought of myself as a tough guy that can handle anything. I served in the United States Army and work security for a large shipping company in Indianapolis.

I have a wife, 2 sons, daughter in law, and 4 beautiful grandchildren.

In 2010 I also had a bad gall bladder. It turns out that the gall bladder may have saved my life.

THE DIAGNOSIS

In March 2010, I woke up with a pain in my side. I figured it was a gall bladder attack and it turned out I was right. The only difference this time was that I would need to have it surgically removed. My doctor ordered more tests, including a CT scan. I always try to be prepared for anything but I wasn’t prepared for what the doctor said next.

My doctor came in the room and said, “Well your gall bladder's bad, "But we also found a mass in your left breast."

SEARCH FOR SUPPORT

An ultrasound confirmed that the mass was real and deep in my body. Five biopsies confirmed that I had cancer - breast cancer. I was 58 years old at the time. These words stick in my mind even today” I hate to tell you this over the phone but its breast cancer”.

I had to have 2 surgeries and 4 rounds of chemo 3 weeks apart. Just having to deal with breast cancer as a “guy” was difficult for me.

I had great family support but really wanted a male to talk to that had been through this."I started searching for a support group for men and there were none, I found men who were out there, but they just don't talk about it, and I think that needed to change.

So I set out to change that. I made contacts with other male breast cancer survivors through the internet, got advice, and tried to draw them out to talk about it more. I became a vocal breast cancer patient, reaching out to friends, neighbors, and even Channel 13 an Indianapolis television station. I wrote a letter to the station telling them how my neighbors offer support by taking care of my yard work anything else we needed. The station provided an Outback Steakhouse Block Party in my neighborhood and did their evening weather coverage at my home. We had several breast cancer survivors including one other male along with 200 neighbors including the fire department and police department. We had a great evening of food and best of all I had the opportunity to get my story out so other men would know that it is ok to talk about it.

SPREADING THE WORD

In 2012 and 2013 I had a bigger platform to spread my message. I was one of 11 breast cancer patients, two of whom are men, chosen to take part in the Ford Motor Company's "Warriors in Pink" program. It included a documentary that tells my story in my own words. We also modeled clothing and other items for 2012 and 2013 that Ford sells to raise money for research. The items I modeled would also have a video of me personally thanking people for their order when the check out. I thank Ford for choosing me to be part of such a rewarding project. These can be seen at: www.fordcares.com

This project gave me the opportunity to travel and during my travels I would tell my story to anyone that wanted to listen.

I am now part of the Reach to Recovery program with the American Cancer Society in which a man with breast cancer can contact me if they just want a “guy” to talk too. This is as rewarding for me as it is for them to be able to talk about it. I am in contact with 5 men right now from all over the United States. I speak at events and do interviews as often as I can. It is important to me that men know that this can happen to us and it’s ok to talk about it. Don’t ignore the symptoms!!!!

comments powered by Disqus
Share your story
Paste in share/embed code from any video sharing site such as Youtube or Vimeo