Robert Kaitz was aware of the lump on his chest for more than a year before casually pointing it out to his general practitioner during a visit for a sore throat in 2006. He was ultimately diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer.
Although Kaitz was familiar with the disease—his mother is also a breast cancer survivor—the diagnosis came as a complete shock. “I had no idea men could get breast cancer.”
In searching for support, Kaitz learned of the John W. Nick Foundation, a nonprofit organization that educates people about male breast cancer. Kaitz now volunteers with the foundation, serving on its board and promoting the organization’s cause.
He has helped more than just men, though. Because up to 14 percent of male breast cancers are hereditary, Kaitz underwent genetic testing that revealed he carries the BRCA2 mutation, which increases the risk of breast cancer. Although his two sisters chose not to be tested at the time because of privacy concerns, they were extra vigilant, leading to his younger sister’s stage 1 breast cancer diagnosis this past December.
Kaitz continues to advocate that breast cancer can occur in anyone, and the message appears to be sticking. When he was undergoing therapy just a couple of years ago, people seemed shocked at his diagnosis. “But nowadays, people say they’ve heard about it. People are more aware of it.”
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