Cancer Survivor Ambrose Kirkland’s Story
Usually I send a questionnaire to our featured Cancer Survivor and then form the story from that. However, Ambrose already had his story written. He is one of the many men who fought Breast Cancer we will feature on this blog. These stories are important, they show survival, hope and faith. But the stories of men with Breast Cancer are even MORE important. They show that this disease not only affects the women you love – but the men also.
I give you the story of Ambrose Kirkland, in his words:
On November 01, 2001 I was diagnosed with breast cancer. This condition may not raise eyebrows unless it happened to you and you happened to be a woman. In my case, breast cancer raised more than a few eyebrows since I am a man. Believe, me I was shocked and surprised. Nevertheless, I went through a mental experience that few men ever stop and think about, even in their wildest dreams. I guess you could say I found this lump many years ago. I just didn’t pay too much attention to it. I knew I had problems with my breast size, but always thought that it was due to the fact that I was heavy. Guys who are fat usually have a lot of fatty tissue, so that’s what I thought it was. I’m sure people noticed that I had larger breasts than most men, but I didn’t know that it would turn out to be cancer. I was on a mission to suppress them. I would wear small tee-shirts, sometimes wearing them two sizes too small. I would even go so far as getting an ace bandage and wrap it around my breast. The best thing that worked for me is when I wore a medium to large tee-shirt, this of course is after I had sewn up the sides to compress the breast area. This tactic seems to work for me for seven or eight years. As a matter of fact, I kept up the deception until October 2001. Keeping my breast under wrap was not an easy job as you can see.
Before the biopsy I did not or would not say anything to anyone because I just thought it was a twinge of pain here and there. When I did discover the lump, it was April 2001. Ignoring it , until the late August 2001, when I started noticing little spots of blood on my tight white tee’s. Now I am thinking, what in the hell is going on now? A lot of things went through my mind, but a discharge from my nipple? This was the furthest thing from my mind. The spots started getting larger and larger and when woke up I would see more and more blood. The months of September and October were spent going back and forth to the doctors and taking what seemed like an endless battery of tests. don’t see how women can get a mammogram every year., but I actually had to get a mammogram. Next I was seen by Dr. Sieloff who said it was probably a cyst. They found some calcifications from the mammogram and the doctors just wanted to make sure that was all it was. So I had a biopsy done on that Monday October, 30, 2001. Since I had my biopsy, I still wore my tee-shirts sewn up the sides, not to hide my breast but to support them. Waited all week for the results. On Friday, Dr. Sieloff called at 4:45pm and told us that it was malignant. I had breast cancer. And so it begins….
My mama and I were on separate phones when the doctor called. When Dr. Sieloff said the word “malignant” Mama and I locked eyes at that instant. Not only did I see the pain in her eyes, but I saw my life from my birth up to that moment. It was a look that I will probably never see again, a mother’s love for her child. I saw something that I have never seen before in my life, in just a split second. I will always remember this look as long as I live. We were told I had to have a radical double mastectomy.
I was interviewed by Julie M of the local television station. I needed to tell my family and close friends. I called Rick K, he told me not to worry about anything. I went and had my surgery on December 13, 2001. Even though both breasts have been completely removed, I still actually feel something going on inside of me. I had a somewhat semi conversation with my sister Angie. I can’t consider it a brain-buster; to me it was just so-so. We talked about God and that maybe he gave me this cancer because I was stronger. If a woman in the family had developed cancer, like maybe Mama or Reba, I was probably a bit stronger than they were; but then I don’t think so. I try to help people to understand that I hate having it. I wish I didn’t have it. So that’s how the conversation went. Mostly, she tried to make me understand God’s point of view on the reason why I have this terrible disease. I felt that when God needed me to find him or understand him, I wouldn’t. So now that I need to feel and understand him he’s not available to me. I’ve believed all my life, since my childhood that he existed. There have been some times when I probably doubted him. I’ll admit that. But even though I did doubt him, in the back of that doubt, in the back of that cloud, I knew that he really did exist. But it’s like right now, I know he’s there, but I feel as though he really doesn’t have time for me because there are poorer people in the world. Funny thing was when I first found out that I had cancer; it was right during the time of the World Trade Center 9 /11 crises, when the attack on America happened. I told Mama that the reason God didn’t listen to my prayers was that he’s too busy with the people up in New York. He’s too busy with their lives, so maybe that’s why he’s really not listening to my prayers. With everything that’s going on up there, maybe he doesn’t have the time to listen to what I have to say.
From June 2002 through July 2002 I endured ten and a half weeks of radiation at The Northeast Cancer Center of Florida. I was told I couldn’t have chemotherapy because of the estrogen in it would make me even sicker. Radiation wasn’t better.
I spent days on the sofa in pain or nauseated. I lost the taste for food. I smelled flesh burning most of the time, and like always it turned out to be mine.
The cancer has come back only once, but I’m in remission now. I continue to fight every day for all persons with breast cancer, especially men.
Sadly on October 19 2013 my biggest supporter, my mama Lora Kirkland passed, but I continue to fight on with her spirit beside me.
Ambrose used 2 songs to check him through the fight. Below are both, and I must say I love them both!
Authors Note: If you know or are a man who has Breast Cancer please contact us through the comment section below so we may get you in touch with the Bret Miller Foundation.