My name is Herb Wagner and at the age of 75, I am an 14 year breast cancer survivor. Although very rare, approximately 1% of all breast cancer is diagnosed in men. It is estimated (in 2015) that about 2000 men in the US, approximately 200 men in Canada, 400 men in the UK and 125 men in Australia are diagnosed annually with male breast cancer (MBC).
As a result, approximately 450 men in the US, about 45 men in Canada, 80 men in the UK and 25 men in Australia will die from this disease each year. When diagnosed with the same type and grade of tumor at the same stage, the prognosis and treatment options for men is similar to that for women. Unfortunately, the overall prognosis for men is not as good as for women because, more often than not, male breast cancer is diagnosed at a later, more advanced stage. Consequently, the survival rate for men diagnosed with breast cancer is about 76% compared to about 87% for women. This is in part due to the fact that many men are unaware that breast cancer is a disease that can affect them and also because men, in generally, are reluctant to seek medical advice, especially about a breast issue. Consequently, my mission has become to increase male breast cancer awareness and therefore, early detection.
In March 2005, while visiting my family doctor in Florida concerning a cyst on my neck, I removed my shirt and Dr. Blackburn asked about my right inverted nipple, which my family physician in Ohio dismissed as “nothing to worry about” six months earlier. Dr. Blackburn scheduled me for a mammogram the following day. He called me at home that evening to say that there was a lump in the right breast and that a biopsy was scheduled for the next day. Three days following the biopsy, I was told that I had stage II – III, invasive ductal carcinoma of the breast and was advised to undergo surgery the following week. I underwent a sentinel lymph node evaluation and a modified radical mastectomy with the removal of five lymph nodes eleven days after the original mammogram. I was very fortunate in that the excised lymph nodes were clear of any cancer cells and that the tumor was found to be estrogren/progesterone positive. This meant that my treatment would involve hormone therapy (Arimidex) without the need for chemo therapy or radiation therapy. I am now almost 9 years cancer free.
In 2006, Wrangler and other western wear manufacturers joined forces with the rodeo industry to develop the “Tough Enough to Wear Pink” campaign in order to raise awareness and funds to support the fight against breast cancer. To date, they have contributed over one million dollars to breast cancer research. My mission is to increase male breast cancer awareness. Since late 2006, I have been wearing the Wrangler “Tough Enough to Wear Pink” shirt while speaking publicly, in both the United States and in Canada, wherever and whenever I can about male breast cancer.
In 2009 we established “A Man’s Pink”, an organization to support this website and in August 2011 incorporated A Man’s Pink as a non-profit organization in Canada and in January 2012 in Florida. We received 501(c)(3) charitable status in the United States in March of 2012.