Who would have imagined men could get breast cancer? I was nonplussed in 2010 to discover my left breast had the least bit of my right after I escaped the clutches of the vAMC death squad in Seattle. They promptly scheduled me for a mammogram Yes, gentle reader. You read that right.
My wife and numerous other women have described the unpleasantness, indeed the pain, of a mammogram but I could not appreciate their distaste for this until my appointment at the Carol Milgard Breast Cancer Center in Tacoma. There I sat among five or six women who stared at me for a moment thinking I might be there to pick up a female acquaintance. When I was called to go in, the looks among them ratcheted up several notches to disbelief. Fortunately it was Gynecomastia (a side-effect of my extreme illness and hospital incarceration for a year) and it subsided over time. That in no way ameliorated the pain I,too, experienced when my breast was squeezed as flat as dollar pancakes. The Spanish Inquisition doesn’t hold a candle to the Carol Milgard Center nor did they have instruments of torture commensurate with modern medical science.
Peter Devereaux was not so lucky. Please read the following. If you had the misfortune to be assigned to the Camp of the Young( Le Jeune is French for “the young”) and even think for a moment that something is amiss medically, I admonish you to get a checkup pronto.
October 31, 2012
Former Marine battling breast cancer
By Cheryl Lecesse STAFF WRITER The Salem News Oct 31, 2012, 04:30 AM EDT
PEABODY — Peter Devereaux didn’t even know men could get breast cancer.
So when his doctor called to give him the news, Devereaux thought he had called him by mistake.
“I said, ‘Doc, it’s Peter Devereaux,’” he said, thinking his doctor would apologize and hang up.
He didn’t, and within days Devereaux was back at the hospital, getting a bone scan and chest X-ray to see how far the cancer had spread within his body.
A Peabody native and North Andover resident, Devereaux, 50, was diagnosed with stage 3B invasive ductal carcinoma in January 2008. For the past 41/2 years, he has been battling the disease, which doctors discovered had spread to his hips, ribs and spine in 2009.
He is one of 82 men who have been diagnosed with male breast cancer believed to have been caused by water contamination at Camp Lejeune, a Marine Corps base in North Carolina.
“It’s the largest cluster ever recorded,” Devereaux said.
Devereaux signed up for the Marines after graduating from Peabody High School in 1980. He served until December 1984, and in that time spent 16 months at Camp Lejeune.
“On average, you’re 19 years old in the service, you work out like crazy, you work hard, you’re drinking water by the quarts,” he said. “None of us knew about the contaminated water.”
In 2008, Devereaux said he received a letter telling him he may have come in contact with contaminated water. By then, however, he had already found a lump in his chest.
After his diagnosis, Devereaux underwent a mastectomy followed by numerous rounds of chemotherapy and radiation. Doctors removed 22 cancerous lymph nodes.
“It makes you appreciate a lot of things in a hurry,” he said.
In 2009, after he began experiencing shooting pain up his spine, doctors discovered that his cancer had metastasized. He’s still fighting, currently undergoing chemotherapy to beat the cancer.
In the meantime, Devereaux is doing all he can to be an advocate, to raise awareness of male breast cancer. There’s still a perception that breast cancer is a women’s disease, and many men don’t think it can happen to them.
“It’s difficult for a lot of guys to come to grips with having, at the bottom line, a women’s disease,” he said. “We’ve still got a long ways to go, we’ve still got work to be done.”
Fortunately for Devereaux, family and friends have rallied around. One of seven children, Devereaux said his family, his wife and his 15-year-old daughter have been incredibly supportive.
“One thing you learn early on: All my friends, all my family, we all have it. It’s not just me,” he said. “Cancer’s not an individual sport, it’s a team sport.”
Among his biggest supporters has been a group of men with whom he used to play pickup basketball games. Last year, they approached him about organizing a tournament to raise money for breast cancer awareness. It was a success, and this year, the second annual Turkey Shootout, a four-on-four tournament, is scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 24, at 8:30 a.m. at Boston North Fitness Center in Danvers.
This year, all proceeds from the tournament will go to Art, because, a Massachusetts-based organization with a goal to discover breast cancer’s environmental causes.
A former ultra-marathoner and Golden Glove boxer, Devereaux said he’s happy now just being able to walk two or three miles. And as he’s had to make life changes, his friends have adapted, too. Where they used to go out for a drink after work, now they hit the juice bar for a shot of wheatgrass.
“I tell people I’m one of the richest guys I know,” he said.
For more information about Devereaux, visit www.peterdevereaux.com. To register for the Turkey Shootout, email Devereaux at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cheryl Lecesse can be reached at 978-338-2664 or email@example.com.
Mark my words. vA and the Marines will probably go into a huddle on this. If it appears there will be too many claims filed for boob cancer, they’ll pull the plug on it or declare it’s not been proven to be linked to MEK , Acetone etc.. As for the wives and daughters of servicemen stationed there who should have this misfortune befall them, I can almost guarantee the long face and the Adobe Acrobat denial response in tortured English with dangling participles…
Candygram for Mrs. Mongo!
” We reviewed the facts and evidence of your claim and have come to a decision. While the claimant may sincerely believe that their ailments are attributable to chemical contamination of Camp Lejeune’s water supply, nothing in medical literature support his hypothesis. Breast cancer cannot be dispositively associated with exposure for any the chemicals discovered because breast cancer is so prevelant in all walks on life. Thus this claim must be denied.”