My wife and I encountered an old friend in Amarillo over the weekend and came away with a stunning realization.
Our friend, a middle-aged man, is a recovering breast cancer patient. Not only that, he has become an outspoken advocate for men who find themselves in the same predicament he confronted just recently.
He was manning a booth along Sixth Avenue on Saturday during the city’s annual Route 66 Celebration. We made eye contact simultaneously and greeted each other warmly. I hadn’t seen Kenny for many years, and I knew only a little about his diagnosis, as I read a column he had written to tell the public about it.
I have some fairly intimate knowledge of this disease. My mother was diagnosed twice with breast cancer; I have a cousin who’s been battling it for years; one of my nieces has suffered from it as well.
They’re all women.
Kenny is part of an organization called the Male Breast Cancer Coalition. It was founded by Bret Miller (pictured), who was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 17. He went through a mastectomy and all the requisite post-operative therapies. Miller also vowed that “no man would feel alone when facing a breast cancer diagnosis.”
Miller’s organization has set aside one week in October as Male Breast Cancer Awareness Week; indeed, cancer awareness organizations recognize the entire month recognizes breast cancer, with media reporting extensively about women who have fought the battle successfully against the killer disease.
Miller has allies such as my friend Kenny to get the word out, that — in the words of the brochure that my friend handed out — “Men have breasts, too.”
Men often are reluctant to talk openly about this form of cancer, as it attacks women primarily. I guess is a male macho malady. My old pal Kenny is stepping up.
I am proud of my friend.