My dad was diagnosed with breast cancer six years ago when he was 75. During a routine physical, he and the doctor noticed a rather significant lump near his left breast. A biopsy was performed, and the pathology report revealed that dad had cancer. Breast cancer in men is quite rare and very deadly. Very little is known about the disease in men. Dad and his doctors decided on a radical mastectomy of his entire left breast along with chemo and radiation therapy. Dad suffered the expected side effects from his treatment. One thing that never wavered was dad’s positive resolve to defeat cancer and enjoy his life to the fullest with the love of his life, my mom.
His annual checkups, bloodwork and physical exams were without a hitch. Five years after treatment, he was excited to get to the annual checkup to be declared “cancer free,” but cancer had other thoughts. Dad had experienced relatively significant weight loss and loss of appetite in the month leading up to his exam. These conditions warranted further investigation by his doctors. In June of 2014, the cancer had not only returned but metastasized to his liver. Dad – a fighter to the end – was given options by his doctors to try chemo therapy yet again or to mitigate his symptoms until the inevitable. He went into aggressive chemo for three weeks. He died Sept. 18, 2014. It was a Thursday.
Breast cancer has cut a wide swath through my family. Mom is a ten year survivor and still going strong. I lost an aunt to the disease six years ago. I have five friends all of whom have wives in varying stages of treatment or recovery. My sisters’ best friend succumbed to the disease five years ago after a courageous battle. My family and I volunteer with local groups and fundraisers annually to raise money and awareness about this terrible disease. I’ve been honored to fly the Breast Cancer One flight on one occasion in 2009. It was a highlight of my career at Delta to be surrounded by so many courageous cancer survivors. I took strength and solace from those memories as I watched my dad fight breast cancer.
It is an honor to work at a company so passionate about fighting breast cancer. My team in Flight Ops was so supportive during the entire ordeal. They were all there for me when I needed them, from the beginning to the end. It is my simple hope to shed some light on the fact that men do die from breast cancer, and early detection is critical. Please do some research, ask your doctor and get educated about the possibilities. Breast cancer is blind to race, creed and gender. Don’t be caught off guard. My dad and my family would all hope that no one experiences the same loss as we have endured. If we continue to fight, someday breast cancer will be a distant memory.