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It's been an interesting year so far

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MichaelM

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I've been mostly absent here on BoB for most of the year and I want to check in and explain why.  I also want to tell this story as a cautionary tale and hopefully raise some awareness for all my Brothers of the Briar.
Right after the new year I developed some pain in my left chest.  It felt like I had pulled a muscle and I just expected it to go away in time.  After about a week it was still present and quite annoying.  I was mindlessly massaging the area one evening and I had one of those panicked “ut oh” moments because I felt something that was not supposed to be there, a small hard lump of something.
I went to the doctor the next day, and he said it was possibly serious and ordered xrays and scans.  Two days later I was told I had a “suspicious mass” that was “likely cancer.”  On Jan 19th I had the mass removed in a minor outpatient procedure.  They also took a fair amount of surrounding tissue (I've got plenty) and local lymph nodes.  Two weeks later I got the diagnosis:  male breast cancer!

The good news:  the mass was small, and caught very early, and there was no evidence that it had spread to other tissue or the nodes.  Odds are I am 100% cured.
The less good news:  the tumor was Her2+ which means it was aggressive.  Therefor, if I'm only 99.9% cured there is about a 20% chance of recurrence over the next 15-20 years with no way to know where in the body that it will recur.
The very good news:  There is a targeted chemotherapy that will reduce that 20% chance to less than 2%.  It's a “no brainer.”  I started chemo 2 weeks ago.

So far it's going really well.  I get an infusion every 3 weeks and this will happen 6 times.  The first week after was kind of awful but really not much worse than a bad flu, and this week I feel normal with  the exception of my hair starting to shed.  I'm going to the barber tomorrow for a buzz cut.  Next Friday I get infusion #2 and so on.  All in all, I feel very blessed and know that there are many people fighting march harder against greater odds.
Those of you that know me know that I'm a private (aka shy) sort of guy that does not like talking about this sort of stuff or drawing attention to myself. I'm not writing this to ask for support or prayer (although prayers are always welcome) but to ask you all to please think about male breast cancer.  I knew it was possible, but never really gave it much thought.  I certainly didn't check for lumps!  It is very rare with only 2000 cases per year.  The problem is that guys usually don't notice until it is too late.  My doctors (and I have about 5 now) all told me that the pain I was experiencing could not have been caused by the tumor.  I probably did pull a muscle and just got really lucky!  Another 6 or 12 months and I could be looking at a very grim diagnosis.  I know it's not comfortable to talk about it guys, but you have to get over that.  Learn how to examine yourself, and talk to your brothers, sons, friends and get them to do the same.  It could literally be a matter of life and death!
To make this pipe related, I have not been smoking much at all.  The chemo kind of screwed up my sense of taste, and that takes all the fun out of it.  But I will be back to pipes when this is done.  Given the rarity of this type of cancer, there is no way that smoking had anything to do with it.  But at the same time I have to admit that smoking does stress the system in ways that wont exactly make chemo any easier so I'm kind of glad my taste went out the window.
That's about it.  I'll put my soapbox away, but you all have to go and learn how to check yourself or I'll have to get it back out again :)
Be well,
Mike.
 

Fumus

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Glad you caught that like you did, and things look as good as they do for you. Also glad you took the time to share this with us. I understand your point about it not being comfortable to talk about, but not talking about it and taking the necessary step to deal with it correctly could be a whole lot worse. Can honestly say that it's one ailment that never crossed my mind.

Will say a prayer for you and yours, and thanks again for the heads up. :afro:
 

Ocelot55

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Wow! Glad you caught it early! I'm happy your diagnosis is positive and you're on the mend.
 

Brewdude

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Very glad you caught it when you did Michael and got treatment right away. There's been a news article recently about male breast cancer, and my former studio partner/bandmate had a small tumour removed from his breast years ago. So it's clearly not something that only women have.

Talking about that kind of stuff isn't something that most guys find easy, so I'm sure that was uncomfortable for you. But good to know you're on the road to a complete recovery.


Cheers,

RR
 

Stick

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Michael,

Good to hear from you but sorry to learn of the reason behind your absence. It does sound like you've faced the news with the pragmatic approach required at such times and as a result it seems like you've got it all in hand. Well Sir, that takes courage.

You present good practical advice too that is all too often overlooked. I know I don't conduct self checks nearly as often as I should do, to include one's gentleman's parts.

Thanks for sharing; I'm sure it'll prompt some action!
 

ftrplt

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Another reason I strongly advise my younger friends and associates to get regular Dr. checkups to include those "tests" many men do not like to have :evil: One such about 6 years ago likely saved my life. Aggressive treatment over nine weeks squashed Mr. C with no significant side effects. Great to hear your good news :D Here's to many years of good health :cheers: FTRPLT
 

Ozark Wizard

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The rule of thumb is, that men tend to not frequent doctors as often as they should. That may be the case. I myself am less prone to seek medical practitioners' help unless it is VERY obvious that it cannot be handled at home. But cancer is a sneaky devil. You were fortunate indeed that you caught it.

Cudos on your getting it treated and followed up with the chemo poisoning. Always best to make sure!

Best wishes on your recovery, and though I am male, and not an advocate of doctor visits, it may be prudent to visit regularly so as to keep a weather eye out for any potential recurrence.

 

monbla256

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Most males seem to dismiss the need for medical attention in their lives till it's close to being to late. I guess it's a "male thing" which is dumb! You be one of the more intelligent ones of the gender and should be congratulated on having the intelligence to attend to something early and get it fixed !! I wish you luck with all this in the future as you have stated it may rise again !! :twisted:
 

huffelpuff

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Glad you caught this early. My brother just went through this with his Dr's this week. Only he is a bonehead, he waited until the lump was as big as his fist. Fortunately his is only a benign type of fatty tumor. I sympathize about the loss of taste as I get chemotherapy infusions every 6 weeks. Wash your hands all the time mate you'll save yourself some nasty illnesses. On a seriously uncomfortable level I give you guys "Deadpool" to talk you through self exam.
https://youtu.be/YZEP6glW4AQ

Guys same things apply to us
https://youtu.be/e0T8dLAyT6I
 

MichaelM

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Thanks for all the positive thoughts guys, and more importantly, thanks for reinforcing the message to keep vigilant!
Great videos :shock:
 

MichaelM

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Just a quick note to check in and let you all know that things are going really well. I took round 2 of chemo yesterday and so far feel just fine. I'm even enjoying my new bald headed lifestyle :lol:
I got a shot of an immune booster called Neulasta today. I need that the day after each treatment. This was the biggest problem last time as it causes the bone marrow to grow like crazy and that leads to some remarkable pain in the shins. I've got some narcotics to help sleep with it this round, and it only lasts for a few days. Two down, four to go!
Be well,
Mike.
 

huffelpuff

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Glad to hear that they're taking good care of you Mike. You'll be done before you know it.

Jim
 

Stick

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Great job Mike.

Stay with it chap and my thoughts are with you.

Here's to a rosy future...
 

MichaelM

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A quick update to say I'm still hanging in here :lol:
This Friday starts round 5 of 6.  I have to admit it is not getting easier.  The last round really kicked my butt.  Mostly I'm still pretty lucky with the worst side effects being fatigue and a complete loss of appetite.  But the mental fog is getting bad and I'm finding myself forgetting a lot of things that I never would have had trouble with in the past.  One of my friends suggested that I should view it as practice for old age :shock:
So I'm not going to be very active here for a while longer.  I just need to focus on getting through the next month.  I'm checking in and keeping up with the posts, just not posting much.  Thank you all for the good thoughts and prayers.  I really appreciate it and will continue to keep all my brothers here in my own prayers!
Be well,
Mike.
 

huffelpuff

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Mike, take care of yourself. We'll still be here when you're feeling better. Try not to let the mental fog get to you too much. I took to making lots of notes to myself and that is a big help. Will send as much healing mojo and prayers your way as I can muster.

Jim
 

Brewdude

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Mike

I don't envy you your situation. But you're made of stern stuff and will get through this and come out swinging on the other side. Hang in there as best you can and keep fighting the good fight.



Cheers,

RR
 

RDPipes

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Mike, Sorry that your feeling so poorly but, I am glad you caught it early on.
Chemotherapy is no fun but, I hope it helps you beat it for good. ;)
 

MichaelM

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Hello Brothers,
I’m checking it to say hello and to let you all know that I am well on my way to being whole again. Things got really bad back in about June, and it wasn’t until near October that I started to feel like something I remember as normal. To be honest, I can’t really remember a lot of the year. But the good news is that I am nearly done with treatments having been through 6 full rounds of chemo, 6 weeks of daily radiation, and almost a full year (done in January) of biologics infusions. These last infusions are a piece of cake compared to everything else. The docs say I’m almost certainly cured, but they have to wait for 5 years before that is official.
I tried to visit here as much as possible and have been living vicariously through you all. Writing was difficult, and that was a problem since a lot of my livelihood requires writing. Fortunately talking was not so much an issue, so I did keep my youtube channel running mostly for the mental health it provided me. I look back on some of the videos now and don’t remember making them :)
The main reason I’m writing today is to say thank you to everyone that sent kind words, and offered prayers. That meant a lot to me. I’m now looking forward to getting back to BoB!
Warmest Christmas/Holiday wishes to you and your families,
Mike.
 
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