A DAD of three who discovered a cancerous lump under his nipple while training for a marathon is urging people in Wales to support Stand Up To Cancer this Autumn.
Mike Rossiter from Whitchurch, Cardiff, didn’t know men could get breast cancer until he was diagnosed with the disease almost 10 years ago.
Keen runner Mike noticed the lump while training for the Manchester Marathon in 2013.
“I thank running for saving my life,” said Mike. “My nipples were sore after training, so I used some Vaseline on them and that’s when I felt a lump under my nipple.
“I was so fit at the time and there was hardly any flesh on me so I could feel it very easily.”
Mike, 63, says he visited the GP three times before he was eventually referred for more tests.
He said: “My GP is excellent and the surgery is amazing – but I think there is a general lack of awareness about breast cancer in men.
“When I went for the third time, I was determined to be referred. I just knew it was something serious and was so relieved when I was eventually sent for more tests.”
Following a biopsy, Mike was diagnosed with breast cancer in January 2014.
Breast cancer is rare in men – affecting around 1% of breast cancer cases in the UK– but Mike is keen to encourage men to speak to their doctor if they notice anything that’s not normal for them.
Mike said: “I never knew men could get breast cancer, so it was a real shock when I was diagnosed. I’m so passionate about encouraging men to check for any lumps as there could be men walking around with cancer and not even know about it.
“Men aren’t great generally with going to the GP, so I am making it my mission to raise awareness as early diagnosis is so important.”
Mike had a mastectomy and six rounds of chemotherapy at Cardiff’s Velindre Cancer Centre. Mike is also on a 10-year course of Tamoxifen. Tamoxifen is a life-saving hormone therapy drug for breast cancer in both men and women, brought about with the help of Cancer Research UK.
In February next year, Mike will celebrate being 10 years cancer free.
He said: “I do feel lucky they caught it early and the treatment I received was superb. Reaching that 10-year milestone is going to be pretty special.”
Following treatment, Mike was encouraged to get tested for the BRCA gene mutation.
Mike, who used to work at a printing company, said: “I had genetics testing and it turned out I had the BRCA2 gene which also increases my chances of getting prostate cancer.”
Mike now needs annual check-ups in the same way as any woman who has experienced breast cancer.
He said: “I often joke that I have more mammograms than my wife. I have yearly mammograms and it’s always incredibly funny when I get it done. I don’t have man boobs yet so it’s hard for them to get enough flesh to pop in the machine and we always have a bit of a giggle.”
Since his diagnosis, Mike has found great comfort in an online group supporting men who have been affected by male breast cancer.
He said: “It is a brilliant group where a group of us share our experiences and help people who are newly diagnosed. I would highly recommend the group to any men going through a breast cancer diagnosis.”
Now Mike, who believes he owes his life to improved treatments, hopes his story will inspire people to stand together against the disease by raising money to help make the next cancer breakthrough happen.
He’s calling on gym bunnies and sofa surfers alike to flex their fundraising muscles by getting sponsored to do 100 squats every day throughout November.
Participants can adapt the challenge to suit their fitness level and complete their squats anytime, anywhere – all at once or throughout the day. By the end of the 30 days, they will have clocked-up a total of 3,000 squats to help power life-saving research.
Alternatively, less energetic folk can choose to donate, raise money in their own way, or pick from a host of fun-filled ideas with a free fundraising pack available online for inspiration and support.
With around 19,800 people diagnosed with cancer every year in Wales, the need to make faster advances is clear.*
Stand Up To Cancer takes developments from the lab and accelerates them into new tests and treatments that could help save the lives of more people like Mike.
Mike continued: “Success stories like mine would not be possible without research into better and kinder treatments. That’s why I’m lending my heartfelt support to this vitally important campaign. Now is the moment for everyone across Wales to Stand Up To Cancer.”
Every action big or small could make a difference. Stand Up To Cancer is helping to transform the landscape of cancer therapy. Since its launch in 2012, the campaign has raised more than £100 million, funding 64 clinical trials and research projects involving more than 13,000 cancer patients.
In Wales, Stand Up To Cancer has funded the PATHOS trial run by chief investigator Professor Mererid Evans at Cardiff’s Velindre Cancer Centre. The trial is looking at less intensive treatment options, following surgery, for oropharyngeal cancer. It is for people whose cancers have tested positive for the Human papillomavirus (HPV).
Cancer Research UK spokesperson for Wales, Ruth Amies, said: “Thanks to our supporters, our researchers are working tirelessly to help more people like Mike survive – from developing a molecule to super-charge the immune system to attack tumours, to re-programming viruses to seek and destroy cancer cells.
“But we must go further and faster. One-in-two of us will get cancer in our lifetime.** All of us can help beat it. That’s why we’re asking everyone to Stand Up To Cancer with us. Whether it’s choosing to donate, fundraise, or tackle the ups and downs of our squats challenge, if thousands of us take a stand we’ll speed up the progress of vital research – meaning more people live longer, better lives, free from the fear of cancer.”
The Stand Up To Cancer campaign will continue throughout October, with a collection of special programming airing on Channel 4 later in the month.