It wasn't until actor Richard Roundtree, the macho, charismatic and cooler than cool SHAFT of the seventies, came forward with his own experience that I became aware of male breast cancer. And then it wasn't until recently that I felt a lump.
Cutting to the chase, my lump turned out to be something called Gynecomastia, a non-cancerous growth most likely brought on as a side effect of my long term blood pressure medications. Today I went for a mammogram and an ultrasound. I was a little embarrassed to even make the appointment but I needn't have been. Every step of the way, the medical professionals were sympathetic and helpful. I was surprised, in fact, to see two men there ahead of me this morning!
I have a whole new respect for what women go through with mammograms and a new understanding of why they often try to avoid them. But you can't. When that machine squeezes down on you--especially as a man where it''s harder to get enough flesh to squeeze down on in the first place--it hurts like hell...for maybe 15 seconds. That's better than the debilitating pain and suffering from cancer.
Stop putting it off. And I'm talking to men and women, of all ages. Check yourself. Have your partner check you. And if you find something, go get professionally checked. It's probably nothing. In my case, an annoyance, the radiologist called it, that might clear up on its own now that I'm on different meds.
But if it's not... If it's something... The truth is better than ignorance. If you know what it is, you can deal with it. Putting it off too long or pretending it doesn't exist can be dangerous. It can be fatal.
I love women. I don't want them to hurt.
And I don't want men to pretend that breast issues and breast cancer can never happen to them.
Don't just laugh at all the pink ribbons. Pay attention to them. Become aware.