Frank Harmon – Diagnosed October 2008
I kept a journal of my treatment and it is available at Barns & Nobel.com “Real Men Get Breast Cancer”. Check it out, it may be of some help to you.
I’m a big guy; 6’-3”, 255 lbs, construction manager, pick up driving, Harley riding real man. Whatever!! In October of 2008, at the age of 62, I found out that I had breast cancer and a tumor about the size and shape of an almond took me down a notch or two, or three.
I was showering and felt something strange under my left nipple. It did not hurt, but by the time I got done mashing it and feeling it for size and shape it did, so my wife suggested that we take it to the doctor. Within a week, I had undergone my first breast exam, first mammogram, ultra sound and biopsy. It turned out that they were also to be my last because before the week had ended I underwent a bi-lateral mastectomy also removing 30 lymph nodes. In the left breast, there was a 2.5cm invasive ductal carcinoma, stage 3, that was estrogen and progesterone positive. This had spread to the lymph nodes in my left axilla (armpit for us guys) so 25 nodes were removed, 13 were found to be positive. The right side was cancer free but we weren’t leaving anything to chance so there went the breast and five sentinel nodes to be sure.
The surgery was rough but it was only the beginning. After I had healed enough from the mastectomy, a chemo port was put in and piped directly to my heart so I could receive chemotherapy. The chemo was so caustic and I needed so many treatments, that the oncologist knew the veins wouldn’t survive which is why the port was installed. After months of Adriamycin, Cytoxin and Taxotere, endless blood monitoring, sickness, fear and pain, the chemo was over. On to the radiation.
By comparison, the radiation was a piece of cake. All I did was lay there while some multi-million dollar machine shot me with concentrated, specifically targeted radiation. It did not hurt but, by the time I was done (35 once daily treatments) the treatment area (about the size and shape of a shoe box lid) was red, tender and hardened (like a callous or the palm of your hand). During the radiation treatment, they monitor your blood count and at the last check we found an elevated PSA. Can it get any better ????? Oh yeah, a prostrate biopsy revealed Prostate Cancer.
The prostate cancer was stage 1, wasn’t very well organized and was not very enlarged so the Robotic-Assisted Laparoscopic Radical Prostatectomy surgery went well. Say that three times fast with or without a couple of beers in you. I have 0 PSA levels now, no problems and do not even think about prostate cancer anymore.
Here is the key…..early detection. My breast cancer was found late and was a real bitch to deal with. The prostate cancer was found early and was easy. My mother and her sister died of breast cancer back in the 60’s. My little sister had breast cancer 22 years ago and is still doing great. If it is in your family, you are at a greater risk than if it is not. Tell your doctor. Examine yourself. Do not play with this because if you do, it can get you and cancer does not play fair. It doesn’t care how tough you think you are because it is tougher.
Live well, Frank