Men have breasts, too, and they can get metastatic breast cancer. Roger Grates shared his story with our friends at the Male Breast Cancer Coalition in August. He wrote this follow-up for the #Stage4Lifer campaign.
I have battled male breast cancer three times over the last 18 years. When I finished my last radiation treatment six months ago, I was told by my oncologist the cancer had metastasized to my lung. Facing a more imminent mortality was my first challenge. The new normal of living with oxygen, exhaustion and depression is difficult.
My second challenge was to work with my oncologist on a treatment plan. Shortly after I started Lupron, the initial treatment, I developed atrial fibrillation. Since Lupron cannot be taken with any anti-arrhythmic drug, we were back to square one. My doctor prescribed Faslodex and Ibrance, a new regimen that has proven to slow the progress of metastatic breast cancer. Fortunately, the University of Michigan has an oncology/cardiology program to work with patients like me and I have been successfully treated for the atrial fibrillation.
Accessing the drug Ibrance presented the third challenge. The drug costs $10,000.00 per month. Since the FDA said Ibrance is for postmenopausal women, my insurance company denied payment. The University of Michigan stepped forward and helped me get financial support from Pfizer and eventually from my insurance company.
Accessing all available resources is so important. My wife has been a diligent caregiver as well as constantly researching the Internet for other resources. When she discovered and contacted the Male Breast Cancer Coalition, they stepped forward immediately to offer support. Thankfully, our family and friends have surrounded us with emotional support, which helps us get through each day.
You’ve heard Roger’s voice. Raise yours with #Stage4Lifer.
If you’re a man diagnosed with breast cancer, check out these resources: