“Sir, you need a mammogram.”
Hearing those words from my doctor was shocking. Why? Because I am a not a woman. I felt as if I was in an episode of the television show Punk’d and that Ashton Kutcher would pop out of his hiding place, laughing, and declare “Steve, you’ve been punk’d!”
Well, he didn’t. So, let’s start at the beginning.
It was a dark and stormy night … No it wasn’t, but I always wanted to start a story like that. Actually, it was a bright, sunny morning and I was drinking my coffee, getting ready to start my day. I jumped in the shower and … I felt it. A lump on my left pec area. Oh, great, I thought, a cyst or a bump. Not a great place to have it, rather near my heart. So, I got out of the shower and called my doctor.
Later that day, I showed my family doctor the lump I had found that morning. He examined it, and then told me this wasn’t his specialty, and I needed to go to another medical center to have it thoroughly checked. Quickly. The next day, I arrived at the new medical center a bit early, so I began checking my emails and making some business calls. This kept me busy, but I did notice a lot of women coming into the building. So, I Googled the name of medical center and the first search response that came up was “Breast Center for Women.” Oh, great, I thought. My doctor sent me to the wrong place.
I called the doctor’s office to ask for the correct address, certain this was a mistake. The nurse assured me I was at the correct place. What?! Really? This is going to be an interesting day.
As I entered the medical offices, I was directed to an area to pre-register, then to another area to fill out some paperwork. I received my clipboard with “new patient” forms (or so I thought at the time), sat down and began to answer the questions. Within minutes, I was a bit confused …
- How many pregnancies have I had? (Well, my ex-wife had one … )
- Who is your gynecologist? (No idea.)
- When was your last period? (I get grumpy every three weeks, but then I eat a piece of chocolate and I’m OK.)
Forms for male patients?
After answering that last question, I grabbed the paperwork and went to the receptionist to tell her that I had been given the wrong forms. Clearly, I needed the paperwork for male patients. Do you know what she told me? “There aren’t any.” Nice.
As I waited for my name to be called, I felt like I was trapped in an episode of the Twilight Zone. Finally, I was called and went into the back to meet my new doctor. After introductions, he told me to remove my shirt. Then he started an examination. I am not even on a first-name basis with this guy, and he has me strip from the waist up and starts touching my chest? Whoa! Second base already?
That’s when I heard the words: “Sir, you need a mammogram.” Let that sink in for a moment … You, sir, need a mammogram. OK. I am not dreaming.
As I walked toward the changing rooms, a nurse screaming: “Code Red! Code Red! There’s a man walking down the hall; cover up, ladies!”
I was led to a room and told to change into a robe. Yes, it was a woman’s robe. Again, I was shaking my head, thinking this cannot be happening to me. But I put on a beautiful white robe with a pink ribbon on it, and then was escorted to a room with a device straight out of a medieval torture chamber. I was rather hesitant at first. The nurse described what was going to happen, and I remember thinking, “That sounds painful.” Well, it was. I was sore for two days. Now, I know what all the ladies go through. It stinks.
After that fun experience, I was told I would need an ultrasound and a biopsy. The fun never stops! My biopsy took place a few days later, and I was told the lump was benign and it should disappear after six months. If not, they said, come back. That was in April 2012. Six months later, guess what? Yep, back I came. Filled out the stupid forms again. Answered the stupid questions again.
That wonderful little bump was actually Stage 2 breast cancer — invasive ductal carcinoma. Crazy, right? It is even crazier because breast cancer doesn’t run in my family. All of this should have been a fluke. Well, not really. Apparently, the amount of soy protein shakes I was drinking prior to my diagnosis had something to do with it. Maybe. They really do not know.
The scary thing is that the doctor later told me that, had I waited another few months, he would have had to tell me to get my life in order. Holy crap!
Sometimes you have to take those lemons that God gives you and make some awesome Vodka lemonade drinks. I did just that! I took my experience and turned it into a great nonprofit called Protect The Pecs, www.protectthepecs.org. Please read the details of my experience on my website.
The moral of this story? If something medical takes you by surprise, do not wait to see a doctor. The appointment you make, however “punked” you may feel, might save your life!
Instead of lying face down in the fight against cancer, come out swinging! Beat it Down! Battle it with all your Strength, Faith, Positivity and Humor! YOU WILL WIN!
Note: Breast Cancer News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Breast Cancer News, or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to breast cancer.