In 2001, I went to the doctor because I had a lump in my breast. Although I knew that it was unlikely for a man to get breast cancer, I was still relieved when the lump was found to be benign. I was diagnosed with Gynecomastia. In 2002, I had intense pain in my clavicle. I went to the doctor and I was diagnosed with a fracture. I had surgery and a biopsy. The biopsy was benign. In January 2003, I had more pain in my clavicle which resulted in a second surgery and and biopsy. I was diagnosed with metastatic male breast cancer (with metastasis to the bone). It was just days after my 41st birthday.
My treatment plan was chemotherapy, then radiation. When the tumor board met and discussed my case they decided I should have a mastectomy as well. After the chemotherapy, I had a mastectomy.
Being diagnosed with metastatic male breast cancer was embarrassing. I used to tell people I had chest cancer, men didn’t have breasts. I now can say I have metastatic male breast cancer. When people hear what kind of cancer I have some are still surprised that a man can get this disease.
At the time of my diagnosis I had been with my girlfriend, Linda, eight years. I didn’t want her to have to go through this with me so I pushed her away. She didn’t give up on us. I married my wonderful wife on July 15, 2003 on a beautiful beach in Maui, Hawaii.,with our son and daughter standing up for us.
Over the past ten years I have had many tests, scans, blood work and doctor’s appointments. At my oncology appointment in March 2012, I was diagnosed with a recurrence in my bone. I started on treatment, which I am still continuing. For me, the pain I have had since my diagnosis has been the hardest. I have neuropathy in my feet and legs. I also have some problems with my memory and comprehension. I have been permanently disabled by the cancer.
I have always been the type of person that just accepts things. I dealt with my cancer diagnosis the same way. I can’t control it or change it, so I just accepted it. I feel that this has helped me get through the last ten years.
Editor’s Note: We are sorry to report that Bob Holden died in February 2020 after an amazing 17 years of living with MBC. It was always a joy to see Bob, his wife Linda and their dog, Bailey at conferences and other MBC events. Our condolences to Bob’s friends and family–we thank him for being a strong advocate.