Yes, I am a 46-year-old, male breast cancer survivor! I am a very proud father of 3 beautiful adult daughters, and grandfather to a beautiful grandson. You may already know me from my 26-year radio career, most of it in Southern Colorado; and if you do know anything about me, you know I share my life. This part of my life will be no different. I am a very positive, optimistic person and will use my faith, my experience, and my voice to help not only people with cancer, but also help their friends and family members better understand it. I hope by sharing my experiences, and my story, it will inspire more people to do the same. What a great honor to be selected the 2013 Susan G. Komen Honorary Breast Cancer Survivor for El Paso County…the first male breast cancer survivor to receive this honor.
It has been a rollercoaster ride of a year. I was first diagnosed with HER2+ breast cancer on August 23rd when a lump on my right breast was tested, a lump I believed to be a pulled muscle. I was in shock….I’m a guy…guys can’t get this, can they? No one in my family has ever had cancer, it can’t be. Yes, I was naive to it all, in shock, in denial. The next day I had a right mastectomy. Two weeks later I had a PET test where two spots were found in my bones, one in my spine, and the other on my right clavicle. After a biopsy was performed and tested, it was revealed that the breast cancer had metastasized and was now Stage IV with an average life span of two years.
The entire experience has increased my faith in the Lord. I am not afraid of death. I know in my heart, I will be in a better place after I leave this life. I also know in my heart that God is having me go through all of this, so that I can use my voice to help more people understand, and gain more knowledge about testing for and battling against cancer. My goal is to bring more awareness about testing and catching cancer in its earliest stages, so it can be stopped before it has a chance to metastasize. The first few weeks of sharing my story on the radio, two different women were tested and found lumps. One found it to be benign; the other had a double mastectomy after finding it to be Stage I breast cancer. If I can continue to hear I was the reason someone was tested, then everything I am doing, and will do, will be worth it.
Hello, my name is Michelle McGree and I am 30 years old. I am a 1½ year breast cancer survivor. In July 2011, I was diagnosed with Ductal Carcinoma in Situ, shortly after I had moved, on my own, to a new town and started a new job. I was single and 28 years old.
My cancer appeared in an unusual way. I always thought breast cancer manifests itself as a lump. Mine showed up as some blood in my bra and on my shirt. At first I thought it was a scratch, and then when I went to the hospital I was told that it was likely a benign papilloma. Cancer was hardly mentioned, by me or anyone else, until I got the diagnosis. I was too young to have cancer. The doctor told me that I had better sit down, and my world morphed into a fuzzy reality, not knowing what cancer was or what I was about to face. I didn’t even know if I wanted children, let alone if I would want to freeze my eggs. I was scared, overwhelmed, and embarrassed. It was difficult to discuss breasts. I let people assume I found a lump, as I just couldn’t talk about the blood I had found and all that had followed.
It wasn’t long after my diagnosis that I knew I wanted to use my experience to help others and to volunteer my time finding an end to breast cancer. I had a bilateral mastectomy in August 2011. My first big feat was walking the Race for the Cure in September 2011. From the Race to the hospital to my house and from a distance, I had amazing friends and family members with advice and encouragement to help me get back on my feet, and for that I am grateful. It took me a while to accept what had happened and move on with my life, but as soon as I was ready, I began to talk about my experience in a more personal way and seek out opportunities where I could make a difference. I was awarded a grant to attend the CY4W Conference for Young Women with Breast Cancer in New Orleans, LA in 2012. I joined the Race Committee at the Southeastern Colorado Affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure and will work my second race in 2013. I have helped and been helped by some incredible survivor friends.
I am humbled to be called an honorary survivor and grateful to all those that believe I fit this role. Cancer is not something anyone wishes for, but now I can see the positive effects it has had on my life. I have met some of the most amazing people I have ever known, including those who have been touched by cancer in some way. I’ve been inspired to focus on what is important—living healthier, making time for myself, and being surrounded by people and things that support me or make me happy. There is an end for all of us, so it’s never too soon to live the life we dreamed of.
Hello, my name is Nancy Ferner. I am so happy and proud to be asked to represent Teller County as an Honorary Breast Cancer Survivor. My cancer story began in 2005. In June, I resigned my position as the Teller County Supervisor for CASA. I was feeling too tired to continue working a high-pressure job. I saw my doctor in September for my annual checkup and I checked out OK. In October I discovered a lump just above my right breast. I knew my annual mammogram was coming up in a few weeks and was reassured by my friends that it was probably just a common benign cyst. There was also no history of any type of cancer on either side of my family.
My mammogram was done and the doctor recommended a biopsy for a cyst in my right breast. However, the biopsy was only set for the cyst within my breast, but I insisted that two biopsies be done to include my lump. The results came over Thanksgiving: the cyst benign and the lump positive. My surgery was set for December 15th. They removed the lump and two sentinel nodes and discovered DCIS also.
My follow-up treatment progressed to two surgeries, a staph infection, an open wound for 6 weeks, radiation treatment for 5 weeks and 4 months after that, radiation pneumonia. About 18 months after my first surgery, I finally settled into a 5-year regimen of tamoxifen. Thanks to Evans Army Hospital, Fort Carson, CO, Scott & White Hospital Cancer Center, Temple TX, Rocky Mountain Cancer Center, Colorado Springs Colorado, and my husband, Richard Ferner, I am a survivor. I have recently reached my goal of celebrating my 70th birthday and my 7-year anniversary as a breast cancer survivor. Life is good!