Kym McKean, a healthy, “full blooded” Australian male, was diagnosed with Breast Cancer in 2002 at age 45 years. His interview two years later in August 2005 is included here. We know that males with breast cancer will relate immediately to Kym’s experience.
“I was lying in bed one night and felt this lump in my chest under my right nipple. I left it for a few months and felt for it again. It was bigger so I went and saw a doctor. He sent me for tests. I had to have a needle biopsy and next thing I knew I had been diagnosed with breast cancer and referred to our local breast cancer specialist, Dr Lim, of Camden NSW Australia.
“You know. I only thought women got breast cancer and it was such a huge shock to me to have such a female disease.
“Within seven days, I was in Campbelltown Hospital having a mastectomy operation during which they removed the lump, the breast tissue with the nipple, and muscle from my chest. Also Dr Lim took 19 lymph nodes from under my arm. This was then followed by radiation and chemotherapy treatment.
“This now means for me that I have a large scar on the right side of my chest and under my arm and only one nipple, which really feels a bit weird. I’m a bit self conscious about it, so I don’t go swimming or do anything that shows people I only have one nipple.
“I have never forgotten the guy they sent to visit me. He was a volunteer, and a really nice bloke who lived around the Emu Plains area. I said to him “So where did you have it?” He said “Which time?” I said “What do you mean?” He said “I have had it twice and both nipples and stuff removed.” We talked for a long time, after which I felt better about my masculinity.
We have both sexes in some hospital wards in Australia. One day, a nurse with the morning drugs came in and called out for Kim. She looked around and saw only men and said “Oops, wrong ward. I’m looking for Kim to give her, her breast cancer treatment.” I wasn’t brave enough to say she was looking for me. A few minutes later she came back and sheepishly gave me the drugs. I wish everyone everywhere knew that breast cancer attacks any breast.
“After my treatment finished I kept getting my regular checkups and then one day about a year and a half later, the lump reappeared. I had to see Dr Lim again and he put me into day surgery at Camden Hospital and took the lump out and more muscle. The lump was in the same place from where the nipple and breast tissue had been removed before.
“I have a lot of numbness under the back of the arm, but I think that is gradually getting better and since the operation I have always done a great deal of exercise to make certain I got the use back in my arm so I could play sport.
“As time progresses I am living with it as it has been part of me since I had the operation anyway.
“I reckon often guys who have a lump near or under the nipple say to themselves “It’s a woman’s problem. I’m a man and I can’t to get it” and are too embarrassed to go to the doctor. But the lump is there and needs to be checked out. After all, men have breast tissue under their nipples and therefore men can get breast cancer in those tissues. Yet men still say to themselves “It’s a woman’s problem. I’m a man and I can’t to get it.”
“So guys, if you see or feel any lumps or changes in your chest muscles and tissues, get them checked out and don’t think you’re a ‘woos’ for having the lump checked out because it’s better you’re alive than dead. Remember earlier the detection the better the chances of full recovery.
“And I was just thinking! There is nothing out there for us guys like the big mobile vans and things that come around for the women, so it’s really important to make certain that we all take ownership of our own body health by checking and looking for changes. And do something about it if there are lumps and bumps by seeing your doctor. If your doctor tells you that only women get breast cancer, see another doctor!!! For every 100 women diagnosed with breast cancer, there is one man diagnosed – be sure you’re the one getting early treatment if you have lumps and bumps near or under your nipple(s) or under your arm pit.”
“’Guys Stuff’ is a great start for guys to learn about something we as males don’t really want to hear about. The fact that www.yapstuff.org is also being designed to enable it to be a teaching tool for all high schools covering males and females in Australia is just terrific. This means that younger guys from the ages of 13 to 18 years will learn about breast cancer in guys from an early age and not feel the stigma that I felt and still feel at my age.
And you know, women regularly do “Breast Checks”. In this section of this website (‘Guys Stuff’) “Breast Checks” for guys are called ‘Pecs Checks’ as for me it makes it a male thing.
Sadly we lost Kym McKean to cancer on 6 th November, 2009. We remember him as a great bloke and a man to admire.