TUCSON, ARIZ. (KGUN) — As breast cancer awareness month comes to a close, KGUN9 is looking at one type of patient that some might think will never deal with a breast cancer diagnosis. We’re talking about men, we sat down with Pima County Superior Court employee Eric Hanson to find out more about his breast cancer journey.
Hanson says when he got word of a cancer diagnosis on the right side of his chest in late 2016, he was shocked. He also says the support he received from family, friends and co-workers made the process more bearable.
Hanson says he thought the lump on his chest had a simple explanation, but as time went by, he realized that things were more serious.
“At first I figured it might have been a bug bite or something like that so I didn’t pay a whole lot of attention to it. The lump continued to be there and started to grow a little bit. I reached out to my wife Erica and asked her to check it and immediately when she felt it, she expressed a deep concern that I get to my doctor as soon as possible,” Hanson said.
With his wife and his family by his side, Hanson had the support he needed at home. His co-workers of 13 years at the Pima County Superior Court also gave him another level of help through the process. Some brought gifts to make the cancer survivors day a bit brighter.
“On May 23rd of 2017, I received the email from my doctor saying that I was diagnosed with breast cancer. My co-workers were super supportive. I never had to think about by caseload or anything like that. I always knew that my co-workers would step up and take the burden off of me so that I could pretty much focus on the cancer and treatments. One of our co-workers sent me some chocolate covered strawberries and that’s always been a very meaningful thing in my relationship with my wife Erika. I realized that she really thought out the gift that she was going to give and that brought tears to my eyes,” Hanson said.
Eric had a partial mastectomy to remove the cancer and six weeks of radiation therapy at the Arizona Cancer Center. He's currently on a five-year regimen of Tamoxifen to keep the cancer from coming back.
“I never thought of male breast cancer before I was diagnosed, I never knew any other males who had been diagnosed with breast cancer,” Hanson said.
Eric has been part of the “Real Men Wear Pink” campaign for the last four years and won’t stop anytime soon. He also started the “Pints for Pink Foundation” with breweries from all across the country to raise money for breast cancer research.
“If you don’t have rules when you’re dealing with cancer, then cancer gets to set all the rules. We also came up with a rule that was really cool, it was for every time we cried, we had to laugh,” Hanson said.
According to the American Cancer Society, at least 2,600 new cases of invasive breast cancer in men will be diagnosed in 2021, and for men the lifetime risk for getting breast cancer is about 1 in 833.
Eric says the key is early detection, so if you notice something is not right get it checked out because it might mean the difference between life and death.
"To the guys out there, please make sure you are doing your monthly breast checks. I have semi-annual mammograms and semi-annual MRI’s so I’m getting checked as often as you can possibly get checked. Remember cancer is a word it’s not a death sentence,” Hanson said.
AMERICAN CANCER SOCIETY LINK-https://www.cancer.org/cancer/breast-cancer-in-men/about/key-statistics.html