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Male breast cancer survivor trying to change 'women's disease' stigma

Posted at 6:38 AM, Apr 18, 2019
and last updated 2019-04-18 08:10:20-04

DALLAS (Ivanhoe Newswire) — Because it’s so rare in men, when breast cancer does hit a man, he often finds himself all alone — isolated with the stigma of having a "woman’s disease." Here is the story of one man who wants to change that.

Rick Williams is a man living in a woman’s world. The stage-3 breast cancer survivor has had a mastectomy and the removal of 16 lymph nodes. He says men don’t have the same support system as women.

“I think a lot of it is men are embarrassed, maybe I’ve got breast cancer. They think of it as a woman’s disease,” Rick said.

Rick’s family and church rallied around him, and then the 58-year-old spoke at a fundraiser for the Susan G. Komen breast cancer foundation.

Prasanthi Ganesa, MD, Baylor Scott & White Health, says, “It takes patients like Rick to get up there to talk about his story to raise awareness because there could be a man right now sitting and ignoring a lump in his breast that we could save his life because of stories like Rick.”

As a nine-year breast cancer survivor, Rick still takes Tamoxifen, gets exams and blood tests twice a year, and feels no embarrassment talking about his breast cancer, especially to other men.

Men should examine themselves for a painless lump or thickening of breast tissue, any changes to skin that covers the breast, changes to the nipple, including redness and scaling, and discharge from nipple.

“Men can get breast cancer, too, and men can die from breast cancer, more importantly,” Ganesa says.

“I think a lot of it is men are embarrassed, maybe I’ve got breast cancer. They think of it as a woman’s disease.” — Rick Williams, breast cancer survivor

Because early diagnosis and treatment are key to fight breast cancer in women and men, Rick wants a lot more blue in the sea of pink.

The American Cancer Society estimates 2,500 men will be diagnosed this year alone from breast cancer, and about 500 men will die from it.