Monday, October 19, 2009

Breast Cancer Awareness Month and Real Men Do Get Breast Cancer

Well, it's halfway through Breast Cancer Awareness month, and I'm already really tired of the barrage of pink ribbons and pink everywhere in general.

Don't get me wrong; I'm very appreciative of all the support and awareness that this month has created. Years ago, one would be hard-pressed to find so much media coverage and general public awareness about this devastating disease.

I do want to address one major issue: While public support is rampant, somewhere in the world, there are families and friends rejecting people who have been newly diagnosed with breast cancer. This has happened to more people than I can count, and it has happened to me. Of course, many family and friends were there to lift my spirits, but there were individuals who rejected me upon diagnosis.

The rejection is more heart-wrenching than the breast cancer diagnosis itself.

And let's not forget the men who are afflicted with this disease. One out of a hundred men get breast cancer and, unlike women, they do not have the world rooting for them. In fact, I've heard from men with breast cancer, and they face a barrage of ostracism -- from "you're kidding" remarks to "men don't get breast cancer," to "but it's a woman's disease." 

What I would like to see is the support for men with the disease. Men have breasts, so why couldn't a man get breast cancer? That's the next public campaign that would be appropriate for Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

Beth L. Gainer is a professional writer and has published numerous academic and magazine articles, as well as an essay on her breast cancer experience in the anthology Voices of Breast Cancer by LaChance Publishing. She writes about a potpourri of topics, including motherhood and her Chinese adoption experience at, and her cat Hemi blogs at Beth teaches writing and literature at Robert Morris University in the Chicago area. She has a guest posting on The World's Strongest Librarian at

She can be contacted at and


1 comment:

  1. This post REALLY spoke to me! My daughter's (CB's) grandfather (my ex-husband's dad) got breast cancer 1 1/2 years ago. he had a masectomy and they took out his lymph nodes in his armpit too. Fortunately, he did not need chemo/radiation. His scans have been coming out clean. It was a real scare. As a man with breast cancer, he handled it well. I think he was embarrassed at first - a blue collar, tough, irish, longshoreman, but he really raised community awareness that MEN get this disease too. He is one of the most amazing people in the world. I cry just THINKING about what would have happened to him if this cancer beat him.

    Thank you for educating us about male breast cancer. I didnt even know it was possible until it happened in our family!

    Take care Beth, and thanks for the comments on my blog. I always love it when you visit. I hope your daughter is doing well!