Thursday 25 March, 2021

What about Male Breast Cancer?

I’m Robbie Milam and am a 53 year old male living with breast cancer. I live in Lady Lake, FL. 

My physical experience with male breast cancer

On December 19, 2019 I received the diagnosis of Stage 4 Metastatic Breast Cancer. It is the same breast cancer that took my mother’s life years ago. My world came crashing down. I received a port in January 2020 and began chemotherapy treatments immediately. I had setbacks in late January that resulted in an 11 day hospital stay. I lost over 20 lbs which was not needed at all and was unable to resume my chemo treatments until late February. After experiencing all the side effects of the chemo I finally finished in June and had gained back 12 lbs. 

In July, I had a radical mastectomy of my left breast with removal of 12 lymph nodes. Eight others could not be removed because of their location. In August, I developed a blood infection that resulted in another hospital stay. Finally, after much insistence from my doctors and family,  I began radiation treatments. I had to put it on pause again for another hospital stay due to another infection. I was able to resume radiation treatments in late October and finished after 35 daily treatments in late November. The radiation was supposed to kill off any other cancer cells in my chest area. 

Mental health while fighting male breast cancer

The road through all of this has been difficult. I am not going to lie, I have had major depression issues and have at many times wanted to give up, and for a while, I did. For me, I finally began to set small goals. One was to see my son graduate from high school, which was accomplished.  Another was to be able to do yard work which I can no longer do. I set another goal to get through the radiation treatments, which I did.  

In December 2020, I had the other mastectomy. Recovery from that has been a little easier but the scar is much larger. I will be going back in at a later date to have a revision and correction on the first. I was left with a terrible scar and skin that should have been removed during the first surgery. I am now on additional medication for various reasons. 

My family, consisting of my 19 year old son,  17 year old daughter, and wife have remained strong through all of this and have pushed me hard through the last year. However, I have a strong need to talk with other men who are going through the same thing.  Because of our uniqueness, there are no support groups for men with breast cancer. I have found a private men’s group online but only have connected with two others with breast cancer. We men need to talk with each other personally, openly, and honestly. It is my hope to connect with other men with breast cancer in the nearest future.  Life is precious and we all need friends that support us.  Unfortunately, I do not have that kind of support group.   

Finally, I battle depression and am bipolar. That has been very difficult for me and my family through all of this past year in addition to cancer and COVID. That’s a story for another time. I hope to hear from others who are going through an unfortunate similar situation and treatments. I now look healthy but inside I am defeated and always exhausted. As I’m always told, “stay strong and keep on.” And by the way, hair does grow back 🙂 

Connect with me on the War On Cancer app here.

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