In April 2001, I was diagnosed with Stage 3 rectal cancer. I was 48 and recently divorced. For six months surgeries, radiation and chemotherapy followed.
The next few years were stressful every time I had tests and checkups. But, I felt incredibly blessed to have conquered this beast. To celebrate my 5 year mark in 2006, I walked in the 3 Day Breast Cancer Walk in Kansas City and 2007, the Avon 2 Day Walk in San Francisco. When friends asked why -- since my cancer was rectal, my response would be "I can't imagine there ever being a walk for our rectums, so I'll do what I can. When they find a cure for one,the rest will be close behind."
Fast forward to April 2007. I had remarried the prior year. My husband noticed a discharge from his nipple. To our surprise, he was diagnosed with male breast cancer and underwent a mastectomy. Fortunately, the tumor was small with no lymph node involvement. In December, I went in for my routine mammogram. I remember vividly my colorectal doctor saying "Keep up to date on your mammograms." But, I was still shocked when I was diagnosed with breast cancer 9 months after my husband. Same breast, same size tumor, and thankfully, no lymph node involvement.
I am proud to say that my husband walked the Race for the Cure with me this year. He wore his pink survivor shirt and said to me " I need to do this because men need to know that it can happen to them." I'd like to think that he might do the 3 Day or Avon walk with me someday. But, I am satisfied that he can now talk about it without embarrassment and that he wants to educate other men.