The Importance of Remaining Positive

First and foremost I MUST stress that the importance of being and remaining positive cannot be overemphasized.

The Monday morning that I was diagnosed with breast cancer (MBC), I was alone with the surgeon and in complete shock.  My surgeon and I thoroughly discussed the possible treatments and the prognosis for surgery.  During that hour I was to decide my future without ever knowing that this disease also occurred in men.   In the end, with Dr. Flateau’s blessing, I postponed my surgery for three days to be able to play in a golf tournament.  Dr. Flateau repeatedly emphasized the importance of acquiring and maintaining a positive attitude in order to overcome this disease.  For that, I am eternally grateful.

Why Did I Develop MBC

Because there is no history of any type of cancer in my family, I am left to wonder how and why I developed MBC.  As a scientist, I perhaps have a unique belief that all humans are born with a predisposition to cancer and to other diseases.  In other words, I believe that we all have the genetic potential to develop cancer.  On the other hand, it is still unclear why some men who do not have any of the associated risk factors develop MBC, while others with one or more of the associated risk factors, do not.

The occurrence rate of all cancer types has increased significantly during my lifetime.  Treatments used to fight cancer have also increased dramatically, improving survival rates for cancer patients. Medical advances allow for earlier detection, which contributes significantly to the increased reporting of cancer rates. The general population is also living longer today than 50 years ago.  I am convinced that chemicals used throughout the years to improve our standard and quality of living are implicated in the higher incidences of cancer cases being reported.  Unfortunately, however, the exact correlation between the two has yet to be fully identified.

From my earliest days as a synthetic organic chemist, I always wondered if there would be a health risk associated with my chosen profession.  I have spent the last 40 years of my career as an analytical environmental chemist developing methods for the analysis of potential carcinogens in beverages and in drinking water.  While there may be health risks associated with certain professions, I personally do not attribute my cancer to being directly related to my profession as a chemist, the workplace, or to the environment.  While these all may have played a role, I truly believe that it was how lifes’ cards were meant to unfold for me, so to speak.  I also believe that as individuals, we all have a specific purpose and role to play in life.  My diagnosis and survival of male breast cancer has allowed me to share my experience and help increase MBC awareness.