"Cancer"

After many tests, including heart stress tests, imaging, scans, ultra sounds, it was determined that a tumor was growing under my right nipple. On September 3, 2019 a biopsy was performed to see if the mass was benign or malignant.

On September, Dr. Yala informed me that the tumor was in fact cancer. I was diagnosed with male breast cancer, which is very rare. The medical term for this particular cancer is "Invasive Ductal Carcinoma".

On September 24, I had a consultation with the surgeon Dr. Jeanie Kanashiro, at the Peter Lougheed Hospital.

On September 26, I had a consultation with Dr. Carey Johnson. It was recommended by both the surgeon and Dr. Johnson, who is a Geneticist/Cancer Risk Assessment Specialist, that I order a genetic test to see if I test positive for any Cancer Genes. A spit sample was sent to Color Laboratories in California.

If the results come back positive for a specific Cancer gene, BRCA2, then they will perform a double mastectomy to preemtively remove the breast that does not have cancer at the moment.

The surgery is booked for October 21, 2019.

Test results for the genetic test were late. They arrived after the surgery and showed that I do not have the Genes related to about 30 types of cancer. Named BRCA1, BRCA2, BRAF and so on. My daughter or my brother is not at risk, as we share common DNA. They DID remove both breasts and lymph-nodes from the right side:

7:15 am: I drove to the Peter Lougheed hospital with Keri by my side. We arrived at the hospital, and checked into the DI Department (Diagnostic Imaging) as per instructions. They gave me 2 injections of a radioactive tracer. Felt like severe bee stings, right into the nipple area. Then I checked into hospital admitting, got the little bracelet thing, on my left wrist because it was opposite of the cancer side. Then went up to Unit 22 in the surgery department to wait.

9:30 am: A nurse came by to attach Intravenous (IV) cannulation into the back of my left hand (a technique in which a cannula is placed inside a vein to provide venous access. Venous access allows sampling of blood, as well as administration of fluids, Anesthesia, medications, parenteral nutrition, chemotherapy, and blood products).

9:50 am: Went back to DI department to have pictures taken of the path leading to my lymph nodes from the tumour. Couldn't find anything on the pictures. Said they will call me back in a while. So went back to Unit 22 to wait.

10:30 am: Called back to DI for Radiation tracer pictures. Still nothing showed up. The Surgeon could use another method while operating, as I still had radioactive agent in my chest. Went back to Unit 22.

11:30 am: Anesthesiologist and his assistant came by to chat about my medical history, and told us what was going to happen.

11:45 am: Dr. Kanashiro (my Surgeon) came in to chat about the operation. Everything was ready to go. The room was being prepared right now. I would have both my breasts, and lymph nodes from the right side removed. The Doctor is so pleasant, and confident, that I had complete assurance that everything would work out OK.

Showtime

12:15 pm: Said see you later to Keri, when an orderly named Dave came by to take me away for the operation. He wheeled me down a long cold hallway and said they were a bit busier than usual this day. I think he said there were 13 different surgeries going on at that time. I asked why it was so cold in the Surgery Wing. He said the Operating rooms are kept colder than normal so the surgeons and nurses feel comfortable. The lighting is hot. And viruses and germs move slower in cold temps. It was around 63 degrees F.

12:25 pm: Arrived in the operating room. There were a lot of people there. The surgical team consisted of at least the following: the surgeon, circulating nurse, surgeon's assistant, anesthesiologist his assistant, and the surgical tech.

Surgeon: The surgeon is responsible for performing the surgical procedure.
Surgeons Assistant: The surgeon's right hand person during surgery. They are responsible for providing the surgeon with anything they may need. For example, handing them an instrument, holding an organ, or helping to close.
Circulating Nurse: The individual that keeps track of time and gets the patient ready for the surgical team. For example, prepping the patient with a catheter.
The Nurse: is also there should the surgical team need anything further to complete the surgery. For example: they call radiology to have a technician come into the OR to take an x-ray with a C-arm.
Surgical Tech: The individual at the back table that is available to assist the surgeon and the surgeon's assistant with whatever needs they may have during the surgery.
Anesthesiologist: The physician that puts the patient to sleep and watches their vital signs to ensure they are stable during the surgery.

They rolled me up and on to the Operating Table which is very narrow. They attached arm wings for my arms to rest on during the surgery. They strapped my body down to the table at my waist. They also belted my arms to the armwings. The bed is narrow so the surgeon can reach across the whole body without too much effort.

There is a ceiling hung device above my feet that is a light and monitor boom. This holds a bunch of equipment and monitors for vital signs etc. They hooked up devices to check my Blood Pressure and Heart Rate during the procedure.

They put an oxygen mask on me with pure oxygen in it. It was hard to breath through the mask. The Anesthesiologist said he was starting now, and to take a few deep breathes. I said I was getting dizzy. A couple more breaths, and I was out. I woke up in a second and experienced no time perception at all. Anesthetics activate memory-loss receptors in the brain, ensuring that patients don't remember traumatic events during surgery.

I was still high as a kite, and unable to retain conversations with the couple of people that talked to me. After the fact my surgeon spoke to Keri and I about the operation. It went well. They got the lymph nodes and the tumour. I needed time to sober up from the meds. I had no real pain, but my movement was real restrictive. I had a lot of gauze bandaging where my chest used to be.

3:30 pm: Was wheeled back to the waiting area. I think Keri came in around that time, although most of what happened right after the operation is still not in my memory.

A nurse came by and checked vital signs, and made sure nothing was wrong. She showed us how to drain and record measurements from the drains they sutured to my body. This is to drain fluids (blood, fluids) from the cavities left by the surgery. To be removed in 10 days.

We left the hospital at around 7pm. and got home in about 25 minutes. Long day, long night. Couldn't sleep because of the tubes not allowing me to sleep on my usual sides. But after being awake for 40 hours or so, I finally dozed off the next day.

Getting stronger now!

10 days after surgery, we went to the Cancer Clinic to get the drainage tubes removed by my Nurse (Navigator: helps you through the process). They were little bulbs, the size of an apple that tubes from the voids in my chest were sutured to my body and carried extra blood and other fluids out of my body. I had to empty these bulbs when they got half full and record the time and amount expelled. It was quite a relief to get them out, as they restricted movement, especially in bed.

Met with my Surgeon mid November to ensure the wound was healing right. I was doing fine at this point. I'd only taken One Extra Strength Tylenol throughout the whole process. I was lucky that I had no pain.

December 18, 2019 Appointment to meet my Cancer Doctor (Oncologist) Dr. Nimira Alimohamed for the first time. She is awesome! It was decided that we would send my tumour sample away to test it for any possibility of a recurrence of the Cancer coming back. If the tests showed a possibility of cancer coming back, or any residual cells left in my body, then I would have to have ChemoTherapy treatments. Test takes 2 -3 weeks.

January 8, 2020 Met with my Oncologist again and we discussed the test results. They showed that it is very unlikely that Cancer will come back in my body, as I was Node Negative. My Recurrence Score is 5% and less than 1% that ChemoTherapy would be of benefit to me. So Yay! Now she explained that I will have to take Tamoxifen every day for 5 years. It is the most-prescribed selective estrogen receptor modulator (SERM). It reduces the risk of a new Cancer developing in Breast Cancer patients.

Canadian Cancer Society

Breast Cancer Society of Canada

The Canadian Breast Cancer Network

Do you Have Male Breast Cancer?

If you have been diagnosed with Male Breast Cancer in Canada this year, you are in the best place in the world with the best chance to fight this thing. Around 200 males get Breast Cancer in Canada a year. So it is quite unlikely, but not impossible. Please do not despair as there are a lot of resources and support workers available to help you through your journey to wellness. Reach out if you'd like to chat.