The Yin And Yang Of Breast Cancer
Sobering research reveals: Every person has cancer cells in the body. These cancer cells do not show up in the standard tests until they have multiplied to a few billion times. When doctors tellcancer patients that there are no more cancer cells in their bodies after treatment, it just means the tests are unable to detect the cancer cells because they have not reached the detectable size. Cancer cells occur between 6 to more than 10 times in a person’s lifetime. When the person’s immune system is strong the cancer cells will be destroyed and prevented from multiplying and forming tumors. When a person has cancer it indicates the person has multiple nutritional deficiencies. These could be due to genetic, environmental, food and lifestyle factors.
These sobering facts should serve as a warning to all of us. We should take good care of our body, be forever vigilant for telltale signs and seek medical help early. We are all in cancer’s crosshairs, but for the grace of God anyone can be its victim at any time. I became one of the chosen ones at 72 years old.
My name is Val, it doesn’t stand for Valerie (YIN), it stands for Valmore, (YANG). I am now a 74-year-old male breast cancer survivor. It is estimated that each year 200,000 women and 2000 men get breast cancer in the United States alone. Women have a better survival rate than men because women tend to detect their cancers very early (stage I and II) when the cancer is very small usually the size of a grain of rice (5mm). My cancer was 4 cm (1.5 inches) in size and I already was at stage III b. You want to avoid stage IV at all cost.
In April of 2007 I discovered that I had breast cancer. I know. Men don’t get breast cancer. Wrong! We do. The good news is that few of us do. The bad news according to American Cancer Society is that it’s on the increase. Annually, men account for less than 1% of all breast cancers in the U.S. 10 men in a million get the more rare form of Paget’s Breast Nipple cancer. The projection is the disease will kill 450 or more than 20% of them.
A University Of Cincinnati study reveals that there has been improvement over the last 30 years in female breast cancer survival rates, but male survival rates have remained the same. So it appears that it’s up to men to detect their cancers early to improve their survival rate. Men may have to insist on having tests like mammograms when they suspect an irregularity.
Women usually detect their cancers thru self and regular exams and detect them within 3 months when the tumors are usually very small. On the other hand men tend to go a year to 18 months before detection theirs and their tumors are usually much larger. Again pointing out the importance of early detection.
Since there are so few male breast cancer patients it is very hard to conduct meaningful male breast cancer studies and there is little data to go on for specific male breast cancer treatment. Some oncologists have never treated male breast cancer and many more have treated only one male. As a result male breast cancer is treated very much like female breast cancer. The American Cancer Society concedes that we need to learn much more about male breast cancer and how men respond to various treatments in order to improve the diagnosis and the therapy for men who have this disease. For now men are subjected to the same treatment protocol as women, namely surgery followed by chemotherapy and then radiation. Following radiation they then receive target treatment followed by hormonal treatment and the usual follow-up monitoring. In some instances radiation needs to precedes chemotherapy.
Little did I know back in April 2007 what I was in for when I discovered my cancer. My journey began in June when I had a right breast mastectomy and 22 lymph nodes removed by an outstanding surgeon, Dr David Bimston. By August I had embarked on my long cancer treatment under the direction of my oncologist Dr. Francisco Belette and his Chemo Café Staff, a journey that would last some 18 months consisting of four cycles of Adriamycin and Cytoxin chemo cocktails. That was followed by 30 consecutive radiation treatments under the supervision of Dr. Abdon Modina followed up with another 12 months of Herceptin target treatment again with Dr. Belette and is now being wrapped up with 5 years of Femara hormone treatment.
They say cancer is not for sissies and couch potatoes. I can attest to that. During my 18 months of treatment I had 135 medical appointments. I spent more time in my car than I did in bed. I think that’s a medical community’s strategy to help keep us busy and our mind off our troubles. Sissy or not I assure you one cannot get through this affliction without support of family, friends and the whole medical support community. I was blessed to be carried through this illness by my wife Doris and my son Ron. Many are not so fortunate as I was. For that I am grateful.
I am now cancer free. After putting my life on hold for 2 years I’ve picked up where I left off. Last month I went up on my roof and power washed it. It felt real good to put a check mark on my old “to do list”.
Buddha said, “don’t worry about the future because you will never live in it. All you have is the present and you should make good use of it.” I think that’s good advice so I’m moving ahead and I’m not bothering to look back at the past. I’m not wasting my time worrying about something I have no control over. What will be will be. In the mean time I’m going to make the best of the rest of my life one moment at a time. You should do the same whether or not you dodged the cancer bullet.