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In Search of Wisdom: Breast Cancer Help Wanted

A male breast cancer survivor looks for answers from those who know best.
Of all the essays I’ve written about cancer and its challenges, I’ve never started with a plea for help. But as a man with an “orphan disease” (meaning it is underfunded, rare and little-understood) I want to find my footing on this rickety road, and I would like to help others who follow in these footsteps.

My world and my work have been forever altered by my diagnosis, mastectomy and the myriad issues that are destined to be with me for the rest of my life. With regard to my chosen vocation, I’ve worked as a public speaker for 40 years. Finding cancer in my breast has inspired me with a new theme to talk about as a breast cancer survivor, and I’m fully dedicated to sharing my experiences with anyone who cares to listen.

But here’s the dilemma: Most breast cancer survivors and the people I speak to are women, and so I feel that I’m starting out on the wrong foot.

What would women like to hear from a man who shares their cancer? Can a guy offer anything in the way of advice, comfort, inspiration, hope or support? Are women receptive to a male interpretation and perspective on breast cancer?

I believe that for many women, it’s no easy task to get your husbands and sons to talk about your breast cancer, let alone how they really feel about it. So when I visit women’s breast cancer conventions or meetings, I always wonder what I can share as a man that might be helpful.

Talk about this article with other patients, caregivers, and advocates in the Breast cancer CURE discussion group.
Khevin Barnes is a Male Breast Cancer survivor, magician and speaker. He is currently writing, composing and producing a comedy stage musical about Male Breast Cancer Awareness. He travels wherever he is invited to speak to (and do a little magic for) men and women about breast cancer. www.BreastCancerSpeaker.com www.MaleBreastCancerSurvivor.com
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