In late 2014, I came home after exercising and noticed a lump on my right nipple. My sisters, who were oncology nurses, told me to see a doctor. I had a mammogram in December 2014 and was diagnosed with HER2 positive breast cancer at age 63.
I look in the mirror and there it is. A diagonal line, about eight inches long. It stretches from my right armpit to my sternum. It’s always there. The scar. It’s always there.
It has been nearly nine years, but it seems like it was yesterday. I was a 57-year-old healthy and fit father of four working as a Fireman in a New York City public high school. I remember clearly when the doctor told me “You have breast cancer.”
My journey with breast cancer began in August 2000, when I was 19 years old. At the time I was living in Ireland and about to undertake my second year of my college degree. Not surprisingly, it came as a huge shock. I had no idea men could get breast cancer never mind a young, active 19-year-old! I subsequently found out that having breast cancer at that age was a very rare occurrence.
I am a 15 year US Army Ranger and veteran. I have always led a very healthy lifestyle. I never smoked or drank and have always been an active person, so when I noticed a hard lump in my chest I really didn’t pay it any mind.
I am truly living my dream. I’m at my restaurant seven days a week. My doctors check me every six months. I have never had a doubt I would beat cancer!
I never would have thought in a million years that a man could get breast cancer.
Always an avid believer in keeping myself in tip top physical shape, I spent a lot of my free time toning my physique at the gym. All that and my whole world changed in October 2012.
As a 41-year-old dad of three children, I elected to have a bilateral mastectomy even though the genetic tests for BRCA 1/2 mutations were negative.