Akron man speaks out about male breast cancer

Posted at 11:25 PM, Oct 15, 2018

Barry Jones life completely changed two years ago when he was diagnosed with Invasive Ductal Breast Cancer, Stage 2, Grade 2.

"I'm a male, I got a women's disease, no," Jones said.  It came as a shock at 69. 

Jones originally noticed a change in his breast while swimming at the local pool.  Once it began to hurt, he went to his doctor who sent him for a mammogram.  That simple test turned into a five hour ordeal with a sonogram and a biopsy.

"Virtually every person I told was either unaware of it or have just heard of it," he said.  His wife, Fran Romeo, added: "I never knew that men could (get it). I just had no idea until this happened to him."

After a mastectomy,  lymphadenectomy, chemotherapy and radiation, Jones' check-ups kept coming up clear.  It was only last week that his latest CT scan showed his cancer metastasized--spreading to his lungs and chest.

"I thought I caught it earlier on with stage 2A, but now we're in stage 4."

In men diagnoses tend to come later in stage since it breast cancer isn't the first thing that comes to mind, which means it's harder to treat.  It's also not as common for men to get breast cancer than women--with a 1 in 1,000 case diagnosis in the U.S.  That's an estimated 2,500 new cases a year and 480 deaths in 2018.

Dr. Tracey O'Connor from Roswell Park said her biggest message for men to mention anything out of the ordinary to your doctor.  "Even though it's an uncommon cancer, men need to be aware of any changes of their physical exam, any changes in their breast and if they notice something to bring i tto the attention of their physician," she said.

As for Jones, he is going to begin hormonal therapy.  His plan is to take life two years at a time--tips, family time, downsizing their home.  And to hopefully see more awareness when it comes to male breast cancer.

"This is a lot of hope and we have to cling to that," Romeo said.  Jones added, "Hope is the only thing stronger than fear. That's what I gotta deal with."

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