An unexpected diagnosis

Glenn’s cough had been persistent for six weeks before he visited the doctors. Like many men, he tended not to visit the doctors all that much, especially for something small like a cough. However, his partner Marguerite had insisted that he go and get something to fix it, so he booked himself an appointment at his local doctor’s surgery.

The appointment went as normal with no surprises – the cough was nothing to worry about and would clear up soon. As the doctor was writing out his prescription, Glenn asked him to check a lump that he had felt on his chest behind his right nipple a few weeks earlier. After a quick examination, the doctor concluded the lump was probably nothing serious, but referred him for more checks, just to be on the safe side.

A mammogram, ultrasound and biopsy came next. Each doctor that Glenn saw was confident that the lump was nothing to worry about, yet just one week after his first appointment, Glenn was given the news that the lump was, in fact, breast cancer.  

Breast cancer and its effect on family

Up until this point, Glenn had been enjoying retirement. He had a small but successful vinyl record business and, alongside his partner, spent much of his time travelling. His diagnosis of breast cancer came as a huge shock; he knew that men could get breast cancer, but he had “never even thought about” getting it himself.

Despite the implications of breast cancer, Glenn remained calm and pragmatic about his diagnosis, quickly focussing on what treatment was required. In fact, it was his partner Marguerite and family that he says struggled the most.

“You can’t overestimate the effects that breast cancer can have on the family of the person that has been diagnosed. Throughout my experience, Marguerite was right there with me and in many ways was affected just as much as I was. The difference is, she was just a bystander, and wasn’t able to do anything about the breast cancer. I think things would have been much more difficult to deal with if I was single. I’m grateful she was there by my side.”

A difficult decision

It was only four weeks after his diagnosis that Glenn was taken in to the hospital for a mastectomy. The surgery was successful, but the following results came back as unclear.

“I had to make a decision myself about whether or not to have chemotherapy. This was the first time that I first felt a bit worried as there were pros and cons for both decisions. Eventually with the help of my partner and family, I decided to go ahead with the chemotherapy, just as a safety precaution. I know they’d have worried about the cancer recurring had I not undergone the chemo.”

Breast cancer treatment

Glenn had six courses of chemotherapy, once every three weeks for five months. He was fortunate to not have many side-effects, other than hair loss, but he did have one frustrating 12-day period of continuous hiccups which badly affected his sleep. However, Glenn maintains that for him the worst part was not being able to enjoy his favourite foods; rare meat, sea food and cream tea.

Glenn’s lymph nodes were found to be clear and therefore there was no need for radiotherapy; instead, Glenn would need to take a daily hormone tablet for the next five years.

Discovering Breast Cancer Haven

During his recovery, Glenn discovered Breast Cancer Haven. One of Marguerite’s colleagues mentioned that Breast Cancer Haven had a centre based nearby in Titchfield, Fareham so Glenn wasted no time in booking an appointment.

“Breast Cancer Haven provided a service that was just what I needed for my recovery after my hospital treatment. I received reflexology, nutritional advice, acupuncture and mindfulness training from the therapists at the centre. I was delighted at how inclusive the staff and other visitors were towards me as a man, even though it is much less common for men to have breast cancer. At no point did I ever feel like a man in a woman’s world.

Since discovering Breast Cancer Haven, Glenn has begun practicing mindfulness regularly at home as he finds it useful to remember that life is all about the moment; bringing himself into the moment helps him to deal with stressful situations.

Raising awareness of male breast cancer

Glenn has also made it his mission to raise awareness of male breast cancer and encourage men to check themselves, giving talks at companies and workplaces as well as speaking on behalf of Breast Cancer Haven about our free support services.

"I believe in the positivity of doing things and talking about issues. When I was younger, cancer wasn't spoken about, but talking about it is very important and is linked to more positive outcomes."

Volunteering

Glenn is happy to give back to Breast Cancer Haven, regularly cooking for the Welcome Days and Health Care Professional Days, and has taken part in two fundraising fashion shows.

Breast Cancer Haven is here ‘forever’

Glenn and Marguerite have found comfort in knowing that Breast Cancer Haven is here for them “forever.”

“Even if something happens in, say, 12 months – I don’t know, maybe my hormone tablets do something new or I experience a recurrence, I can always come back and receive support here again. Having that guaranteed support means a lot to Marguerite and I, and has helped us to move on with our lives.”

 

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