Jeff Flynn, 65, believed breast cancer was a woman's disease. So in early 2011 when he felt pain and a lump in his left breast, he brushed off the symptoms. Several months later when he was on the beach in Florida, his wife noticed his left nipple was inverted, sometimes a red flag for breast diseases, including cancer. "She told me, 'You had better get that checked,'" shares Jeff.
Inside a week, a breast surgeon told the retired IT account manager he had stage 3C, HER2 -negative breast cancer. "When I got that call, I went pale," said Jeff, who has no family history of the disease.
In September 2012, Jeff underwent surgery to remove his left breast, three months of chemotherapy, seven weeks of radiation and began a daily regimen of tamoxifen. A year later, he had breast reconstruction.
A couple of years later Jeff discovered a lump in his collar bone which was diagnosed as stage 4 metastatic cancer. Doctors recommended hormone injections and chemotherapy. He is now cancer-free.
"I swore if I survived this, I would raise awareness of the disease and support men," Jeff said. "Men who have been diagnosed are not willing to talk about it and are very embarrassed to have a 'female disease.'"
Breast cancer in men is rare, he explained, yet he says it's his mission to educate men about the risks of the disease which is why Jeff now volunteers at the Adelphi Breast Cancer Support Group.