GREEN BAY, Wis. (WFRV) – Though it’s most commonly thought of as a disease that affects women, breast cancer does occur in men and can be just as deadly. That’s why one local breast cancer survivor says it’s time for men to speak up.
“I came out of the shower and looked in the mirror and there was a divot, which hadn’t been there,” said James Fryman, a breast cancer survivor.
Like many men, when Fryman noticed something on this chest, the last thing he was thinking about was breast cancer.
“I kinda hesitated thinking, it can’t be… I’m a male,” Fryman recalled.
For this avid tennis player and former airman with the United States Air Force, a diagnosis of breast cancer wasn’t even on his radar.
“I didn’t believe it,” Fryman said. “I thought it had to be something other than that ’cause everybody said it’s a female thing.”
As Fryman learned the hard way, breast cancer is not just a female thing.
“Breast cancer definitely can happen in male patients as well,” said Dr. Natalie Luehmann, breast surgeon at Aurora Baycare Medical Center
Luehmann says Fryman’s reaction is somewhat common, but it shouldn’t be.
“We do see men in our office all the time,”Leuhmann said, addressing the male population. “We’re not surprised to see you.”
In fact, Luehmann says Fryman’s symptoms are a good example of the types of things men should keep an eye out for.
“Signs that men should look for are any new lumps or bumps in their breast tissue, any skin changes, changes in their nipple, any puckering or any discharge,” Luehmann explained.
Fortunately, Fryman did go get checked out, though he says he wishes he’d done it sooner.
“When it was eventually evaluated it was a level three,” Fryman said.
Fryman had his breast tissue removed, underwent chemotherapy and dozens of radiation treatments to battle the cancer.
“Thirty-three times I went there at 8:30i n the morning,” Fryman pointed out.
Until he could finally call himself a “cancer survivor.”
“April 9th it was over, done, finished,” said Fryman.
Although he is quick to point out, he’ll never be completely finished.
“Never totally free,” he said.
Fryman will be on medication and continue to be monitored for the next five years and beyond.
That’s why Leuhmann says early detection is so important for both women and men.
“If we catch something early, that can mean a better prognosis and also, overall less treatment for the patient,” Luehmann explained.
As for Fryman…
“I’m happy to be back playing tennis again,” he said.
Fryman’s got a message for men who may think going in for a breast exam is not a “manly” thing to do.
“Get over it, he chuckled. “Go in there.”
Health experts say each year around 2,500 men in the U.S. are diagnosed with breast cancer.