‘Nothing to worry about’

The call had been made and the doctor’s appointment had been booked, but Amrik wasn’t yet aware that he was going.

“It was my girlfriend Shirelle, who first noticed something was wrong. One night in bed, Shirelle pointed out a lump that she had seen on my chest. I had a look and was able to feel it myself, but I soon decided that the lump was probably nothing to worry about.”

Yet Shirelle wasn’t happy to just forget about it. Undeterred, she rang Ravinder, Amrik’s sister about the discovery and the duo wasted no time in booking a doctor’s appointment for Amrik.

It was only a few days later, whilst visiting his parents’ house, that Amrik found out about the appointment. Much to his surprise, Ravinder answered the door and told him; “Shirelle and I have booked you a GP appointment. You’re going and I’m coming with you”.

Despite his objections to going, Amrik eventually relented.

Being diagnosed was a huge and sudden blow

A short consultation and check-over later, the doctor had made a similar conclusion to Amrik.

“He told me he was 90% sure that there were no problems and that the lump would simply be a cyst. It was good to hear and, although I was sent for a mammogram, ultrasound and biopsy over the next 7 days to be on the safe side, I was 100% not expecting the result I received one week later.

Ravinder came with me to hear my results. I was feeling relaxed about it, which made it such a huge and sudden blow when they revealed that I had breast cancer - I nearly fainted. I didn’t know anything about cancer, plus the details about my own breast cancer confused me – I felt completely in the dark about what was happening.”

Surgery to remove the tumour

Amrik eventually learnt that he had a 2.5cm tumour and had fortunately caught the breast cancer at a very early stage. Amrik needed to have an operation to remove the tumour, but didn’t need chemotherapy. From diagnosis, things moved very quickly and within a month, Amrik was taken into surgery.

“I was quite nervous but it all happened so quickly it was over before I knew it. My operation was at 7.00am, so no sooner had I woken up in the morning for the procedure, I was asleep again because of the anaesthetic. The next thing I know I’m waking up and being wheeled out of the operating theatre. Later on that day, I was allowed to go home. It was such a surreal experience”.

Ravinder was there once again with Amrik all day at the hospital and took him home after the procedure.

Feeling exhausted post-surgery

For Amrik, post-surgery was a time to come to terms with what had happened. In the past month he had been whisked through a series of tests, been diagnosed with breast cancer, received surgery and was now recovering from the operation. The unexpected series of events had been exhausting for Amrik. In addition, he was now taking tamoxifen to help prevent recurrence, which had some unpleasant side-effects.

“As part of my recovery, I was visiting my local Macmillan centre for extra information and support. The nurse pointed me in the direction of Breast Cancer Haven, who she said had a centre very close to me in Leeds. Whilst I had never received complementary therapy before, the idea of having some additional emotional, physical and practical support sounded great to me as I hadn’t been feeling myself since the operation.”

A tailored support programme

Amrik began by meeting with Debra, the Yorkshire centre manager, and chatting about the issues he’d been having since surgery including fatigue and trouble getting to sleep. A tailored programme of acupuncture and shiatsu was then designed to help Amrik to alleviate stress and promote better sleep.

“I wasn’t initially sure what acupuncture and shiatsu were but I believed Debra when she told me they would help me. She was right. The sessions were very relaxing and reduced my sleeplessness. The therapists also gave me some helpful advice for my day to day routine and diet.

Even though I was the only man using the Yorkshire centre at the time, the staff were so kind and welcoming to me. I didn’t feel strange at all being there – it was a shared space for everyone.”

How Amrik is moving on

Amrik may have been lucky to discover his breast cancer early and promptly get the tumour removed, but he wanted his rare experience of breast cancer to be able to help others.

“I don’t feel like I learnt a huge amount about myself from having breast cancer, really. But I’m certainly not as self-confident as I used to be and I’ve noticed how a lot of my old friends have distanced themselves from me.

However, I want to move on now and something that is helping me to do that is to use my experience to help breast cancer raise awareness amongst men. I want more men to know that male breast cancer is possible and how they can check themselves.”

Amrik has been on BBC Radio Leeds and local news radio stations talking about male breast cancer, organised his own huge Bollywood Garden Party fundraiser to raise money for Breast Cancer Haven (which earnt him a double page spread in the Yorkshire evening post) and even starred as the only male model in Breast Cancer Haven’s Yorkshire Blossom Fashion Show earlier this year. 

“I think the hardest thing as a man is actually visiting a doctor or telling somebody if you suspect something might be wrong. But doing nothing might make it worse. I hope that by speaking out about the issue and chatting with other men, they can open up about their concerns and find the courage to get themselves checked.”

Getting back to normal

Whilst Amrik is still taking tamoxifen to help prevent recurrence, and experiencing some side-effects from this, he feels like he is moving on from breast cancer.

“I feel so lucky that Shirelle and Ravinder were so proactive in detecting the lump and arranging for me to go to the doctors. They probably saved my life.

I’m also grateful to the NHS for treating me so quickly and to Breast Cancer Haven for helping me to transition smoothly back to a normal happy lifestyle.”

 

If you're affected by breast cancer and need some support, please don't hesitate to get in touch. Register for free breast cancer support at your local Breast Cancer Haven centre today.