Men Don’t Have Breasts!
by Eric Dunlap
A year before my cancer diagnosis, after working in the yard, I noticed a spot of blood on my shirt. Thinking that I had scratched myself, I dismissed the occurrence. Later that day, another spot appeared. After looking at my chest, I determined that the blood came from the nipple, so I scheduled a doctor’s appointment. The doctor briefly examined me and concluded that the bleeding must have been caused by trauma to the chest region. He indicated that the bleeding would stop, which it did, and I sought no further diagnosis.
A year later, while working out, I experienced excruciating pain in my chest. I dropped to my knees. Clinching the lower portion of my chest, I detected a lump. The following day, I went to the doctor. He conducted a physical examination and immediately noticed the lump. He referred me to a surgical oncologist who later confirmed that I had breast cancer. I remember saying, “I am a MAN! Men do not have breasts, we have a chest.”
With my male ego strongly intact, I replied, “I am a man; I do not think that I will need a support group.” She kindly stated, “I will call you within a week.”
I would need to have a radical mastectomy and chemotherapy. The nausea and fatigue were difficult. I experienced the emotional roller coaster. And with each step, I prayed.
While I was recovering, I received a call from a woman working with a support group who asked me if I would be interested in joining. With my male ego strongly intact, I replied, “I am a man; I do not think that I will need a support group.” She kindly stated, “I will call you within a week.”
A week later, she called. We discussed my fears and concerns. And I decided that I might be able to help other cancer survivors. I began to share my story with radio and television stations, corporations, universities, support groups, and churches.
Cancer has changed my life forever. I value my time with my family and friends more than ever. I try to spend as much time with them as possible. I have a greater appreciation for life. Cancer has been a catalyst for my inspirational and motivational speaking. My goal is to educate, encourage, and empower people to continue healing from the inside out.
Cancer has been a detour, but not the end of the road. I have been given a second chance to enjoy my life. But until there is a cure, the journey continues.
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Eric Dunlap is a breast cancer survivor and a motivational speaker. Visit Eric's website at dunlapspeaks.com.
This article was originally published in Coping® with Cancer magazine, March/April 2010.