Cancer Survivor Bob DeVito’s Story
About 1 in 8 U.S. women will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of her lifetime. As they age women begin to think of breast cancer as a real threat. When surveyed men, for the most part, didn’t think it would happen to them; some men even questioned if it were even possible for them to be diagnosed with such a cancer. The truth is a man’s lifetime risk of breast cancer is about 1 in 1,000.
For Bob DeVito breast cancer was a disease his mother had, not something he would have to fight himself. But he got the news he never thought he would hear: “You have breast cancer”. Today he is lucky enough to be categorized as “NED” – No Evidence of Disease – which is as close as you can get to cured.
Bob tells his story best:
“I’m a 51 year old, male breast cancer survivor living in Connecticut with my life partner, Tony. I was diagnosed on May 11th, 2012 with Stage 3A male breast (invasive ductal carcinoma). I had a mastectomy of my left breast and after a sentinel node biopsy it was found that I had lymph node involvement (7 positive nodes of the 14 dissected). I was treated with 6 rounds of ACT (Adriamycin, Cytoxan, & Taxotere) chemotherapy over 18 weeks followed by 25 rounds of daily radiation. I’ve been on Tamoxifen for over a year now. I’m currently staying involved at the cancer center by attending a bi-monthly Art Therapy group and I facilitate a journaling group each Friday morning. Since being diagnosed I’ve also taken up acrylic painting and creative writing. All of my recent scans and blood work have been negative.”
“As a man with breast cancer, I’m treated the same as a woman because there’s a lack of studies on male breast cancer. There’s not a lot of information about male breast cancer. It is barely mentioned in the news or literature. When I was diagnosed, I thought three things: one, I’m going to die, two, I’m going to be disfigured by a mastectomy and three, I need to tell everybody about male breast cancer. To that end, I’m working with a video production crew to produce a documentary about male breast cancer and my experiences with it and how I met another man (Bill Becker) that was local to me who also had the same stage cancer I did.”
Bill Becker, who also told us his story of survival, and Bob DeVito have joined together to form Breast Cancer Brothers. Bob says “I stand beside my brothers and fight. Making sure that other men are not alone with this horrible disease. Advocacy with speeches and talking with anyone who will listen to get the word out that men get breast cancer too.”
I asked Bob if he had any advice he would give someone who was just diagnosed; he had a few things and they are all really good:
* Get a journal and write everything down – Phone numbers, doctors visit results, everything.
* Learn all you can, do researching, building a network of support, call and talk to a counselor from your cancer center.
* People want to help – let them help.
* Put someone in charge of a fundraiser to help defray the costs of treatment. Even with insurance you will have copays and deductibles.
* Talk to others who’ve been in your place for tips and tricks to “surviving” treatment.
Some cancer patients have a “fight song”, something that puts you in the right frame of mind to get through your treatment. Bob said he didn’t, but he does like “Pink Warrior” by Candy Coburn.
Author’s Note: Please be sure to visit Bob’s website Breast Cancer Brothers for great information about Male Breast Cancer.
As always, if you or anyone you know is struggling with a diagnosis please comment below and we will do our best to get you in touch with a support group in your area or online.