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Our lawyer, Tommy

This is the tale of my fling with breast cancer last year. I am posting it for a few reasons. First, I want people to know it’s ok to talk about it or not, as you wish. You may notice the missing breast on the hairy chest or not. No problem. I am not at all self-conscious about how it looks. Second, I am fine, really. No need to worry. Third, yes, men can get breast cancer. But you knew that. Here is the story:
Before Christmas 2006, I found a lump in my left breast and went to the doctor. Because breast cancer in males is rare, the expectation was that it would be benign. But the biopsy came back inconclusive. Next step was removing the lump which was done on Jan. 15, 2007. The next day I was told it was cancerous. I was also told there was no choice other than removing the entire breast. I made the earliest appointment possible for a mastectomy.
On January 25, 2007, I had a "simple mastectomy with sentinel node biopsy". The pathology report said there was no cancer in the lymph nodes. It also said the "minimal residual" cancer left after the lumpectomy had been removed with the breast. It was a very simple surgery, performed on a Thursday, back at work on Monday.
Because I am a rare case, I was sent to Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston for further evaluation. The doctor there said I had caught the cancer as early as it could possibly have been discovered. She didn't think chemotherapy or radiation were called for, but she recommended that I take Tamoxifen for five years. This is an estrogen-blocking drug, very commonly taken by women to prevent recurrence of breast cancer. I started taking it end of February, 2007. It made me tired with difficulty in concentrating, but it got better. No noticeable effects now.
Summary: surgery was not difficult, cancer prognosis good, no chemo, Tamoxifen treatment an inconvenience.
I like to say that I was allowed to join the breast cancer sorority, but the initiation was a little harsh. -- Tom McHugh

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