Thursday, September 13, 2018

Meet the Survivors from The Male Breast Cancer Coalition


Meet some of the many remarkable men who have overcome the battle against Male Breast Cancer.  Read their stories and get inspired by their strengths and the will to rise above this debilitating disease.  Thanks to the loving support from the Male Breast Cancer Coalition, awareness and resources are made available for men and their families worldwide.


BRET MILLER
My breast cancer was 88% estrogen based and I was prescribed Tamoxifen. The side effects were awful, I didn’t realize it at first but I was moody, having hot flashes and was not pleasant to be around. After six weeks, I was taken off the Tamoxifen.  Right now, I’m taking Anastrozole daily. My mission now is to spread the word to everyone, men & women, young & old, that breast cancer does not discriminate, it can happen to anyone at any age and to MEN too!  On May 19, 2010, I started The Bret Miller 1T Foundation with the help of my parents Peggy & Bob Miller. Only 1 T in my name and now 1 Tit and 1 Nip for those keeping track (have to have some humor every now n’ then). The goal of the foundation is to raise awareness in colleges and high schools telling our youth that breast cancer can happen to anyone!  Male breast cancer survivors share their journeys and let students know they are their own best advocates for their bodies.  We tell people if they find something that doesn’t feel right they must talk with a doctor, don’t ignore anything. If you don’t like the answer given to you, get a second, third or fourth opinion. Don’t rest until you get the answers you want. Early detection is the first step in the fight against breast cancer!  (See Bret Miller's complete article)


JOHN MORMONDO
Up to that point, I was a healthy 51-year-old. I’m not exaggerating when I say I was probably in the best shape of my life. I had just competed in an Ironman 70.3 Triathlon in September 2017 and ran the NYC marathon in November 2017. I was in the very beginning of starting to train for a Full 140.6 Ironman in Louisville when I spotted a small lump on my chest.  I immediately brought it to the attention of my doctor who sent me for a biopsy on March 19th. Four days later I got my diagnosis. After interviewing three different cancer surgeons, I went with NYU Langone Cancer Center in NYC.  On April 17th I had a right-side mastectomy with a lymph node dissection. On my left side I got a breast reduction to even my body out. It just so happened that after pathology they found a small cancerous tumor there too. A 51-year-old male in great shape with bilateral breast cancer. I was shocked to say the least.
(See John Mormondo's complete article)


N'KOSI CAMPBELL
When I was in the military and growing up playing sports I was always told to “suck it up, pain is just weakness leaving your body.” So that’s exactly what I did. I ignored it for months and months. It wasn’t until a friend of mine could tell I was in physical pain that I
finally went to get it checked out. Even then she pretty much had to force me to go.  When I did finally get to the doctor it got really weird really quick. After all the basic questions, the doctor started to examine my chest, or should I say “breast” which again is weird to me, because I never had a breast exam. The doctor had some concerns, so he referred me to another clinic for a later date. When I did get to the referred office imagine my surprise when I discovered it was a breast examination facility.  I walked into the office, went up to the receptionist and quietly told her, “I’m here for my appointment.” She gave me a look as if to say “yeah right I think you’re in the wrong office.” When she called my name, sure enough I was in the right place. This is when all the fun stuff started. They started to give me tests that completely caught me off guard, primarily because all the tests were associated with women (IE breast exam, mammogram, and breast biopsy). Then after several days of tests I was told I had Breast Cancer!  (See N’Kosi Campbell's complete article)

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MEN HAVE BREASTS TOO

A Series about Breast Cancer in Men

MEN HAVE BREASTS TOO is an ongoing video series about breast cancer in men. Produced by The Male Breast Cancer Coalition, the MEN HAVE BREASTS TOO series includes short documentaries with men who have been diagnosed with breast cancer, the latest news and information about male breast cancer from medical experts, stories from family members of survivors and men lost to the disease, the impact genetic mutations have on men and their families and much more.

On behalf of Awareness for a Cure and the cancer fundraising community, we give special thanks to Cheri Ambrose and Peggy Miller of the Male Breast Cancer Coalition- whose support and hard work continues to spark the lifeline and public presence of such a vital organization for men's health and cancer survivorship.  

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Wednesday, September 12, 2018

9/11 Responder Joins Awareness Mission to Battle Cancer Threats


MESSAGE FROM A 9/11 RESCUE RESPONDER
"I (still) see and hear about people being diagnosed with cancer every single day from 9/11.  I'm afraid there's no end in sight-- It's because of this that I'm so driven to get myself checked out regularly... and I also try to get everyone to get screenings.  However way I can do that, if it's through an article in the paper, if it's something online, anything that we can do... it's gotta happen!" - Richard Marrone

I worked for FDNY EMS during 9/11 to assist in the rescue recovery efforts, working out of Battalion 55 in the South Bronx.  I got there after the towers had collapsed and was assigned there on and off for 10 months. 

THE KILLER DUST
It was just everywhere. The DUST was so thick it would dry your eyes out. You couldn't breathe. As EMS, that was a lot of what we were doing was just constantly cleaning people's eyes out. There's nothing you can do to get away from it. I know what was in those particulates--it was asbestos, it was concrete, it was human remains, metals and any possible contamination in a fire... it was all there.

Nobody was protected. Even the firefighters who had self-contained breathing apparatus, you're only getting 15 or 20 minutes maximum on those cylinders, and there just wasn't enough to keep constantly replacing them. The police officers and EMS personnel were using surgical masks, which basically provided no protection whatsoever.  We mostly treated rescue workers on site due to the dust-- eyes and stuff like that. There really wasn't enough eye or respiratory protection, so anybody that became a patient post-collapse was due to the contamination and the toxins of 9/11.

There were EMT's and paramedics that were killed during the collapse. At the time of the incident, it was a no-holds-barred. I mean, everybody responded to that, whether you were FDNY, EMS, St. Vincent's, a voluntary hospital, or a private ambulance-- everybody responded!  As far as the police departments, same thing; New York City Police, Suffolk County, Nassau County, New Jersey-- everybody responded to this. We had EMS coming from as far as Buffalo and Niagara Falls. 


TOXIC DUST TRAVELS HOME
But another concern of mine is the peripheral contaminants that may have affected the forgotten people in all this; the family members that the responders came home to.  Think about whomever was handling our clothing & laundry-- I would come home, take my clothes off outside the house, bring them in and my wife would put them in the wash.   Every time I was exposed to the Trade Center, so was she. She never went down to Manhattan but I brought it all home to HER. How many other wives and husbands and people associated with rescue workers have come down with an illness due to 9/11 and never once stepped foot down at 9/11?  DUST gets everywhere and situations like this are how a disease travels.

UPGRADES IN THE SYSTEM
It's been 17 years today.  We've had a lot of funerals due to 9/11 related cancers and there's no end to this. 
We all learned a lot from 9/11 as a learning aspect and a lot of protocols were created because of it.  It's pretty enforced (now) that every single member of the police and fire departments have a full face chemical/respirator mask as a standard for personal protective equipment.    Also, the fire department along with the EMS branch has its own hazmat people. They train with hazmat and we have rescue medics.  Back then, you didn't have enough for ground zero because 9/11 didn't start out as a hazmat job; that was a plane crash, a building fire-- that was a collapse. It didn't become a hazmat job until after the buildings had fallen down and they realized that this is probably not good to breathe in.

GETTING CERTIFIED is MESSAGE #1
We all got certified and tested and some of us continue to get re-tested.   As the union delegate (then),  when it came close to the closing for the victims compensation certification, I made copies of every application and put them on the desk of every single member at my facility. And told them, "You have to fill this out. And then give it back to me." And then I would send it in to make sure that it got in. So I essentially was trying to force people to become certified, begging people to let me help you take care of your family in the event something happens. And most people were appreciative, and I was glad to do it.

Getting certified doesn't mean you have cancer or that you're sick.  Just because you certify yourself doesn't mean you're going to come down with an illness or that it designates you as a sick person or that you're going to be sick.  But if you worked at 9/11, you may become sick in the future, it's just a matter of WHEN. What this is about is to have you certify yourself so when that day comes, you and/or your family is taken care of. That's all there is.

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About the Author: 
Richard Marrone is a career veteran with the NY Fire Department, an active Emergency Medical Technician for the FDNY and a first responder at 9/11.  He spent a significant amount of time in Ground Zero since the attack treating all responders and civilian victims while being directly exposed to the deadly air and toxic dust that affected (and continue to affect) so many thousands. Today, he volunteers for various local cancer organizations and  cancer awareness groups and works as a health advocate for regular cancer screening & cancer prevention for all first responders, volunteers and civilians exposed to 9/11 toxic dust. 

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