PUBLISHED ON: 4 February 2021

Four years ago, Graeme’s dad was diagnosed with breast cancer. Now, Graeme is taking on an impressive challenge to raise money and awareness. 

Graeme and his father, John, sit together in the pub enjoying a pint of beer

Dad found the lump four years ago 

My dad was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 76 in January 2017. He’d noticed he had an inverted nipple but didn’t feel any pain. He decided to go to the doctor when a small, soft lump formed under the nipple. 

He was sent for a scan and then had a biopsy. Within a week, he had a lumpectomy.  

Dad also had lymph nodes removed, but it showed no signs of cancer, and part of his chest wall was scraped.  

Thankfully, he didn’t need any post-operative procedures such as radiotherapy, but he was prescribed hormone therapy. He was supposed to take it for five years in order to reduce the risk of recurrence, but the side effects were too severe, so he had to stop taking them. 

I knew that breast cancer in men was rare 

When dad first got the news, he was concerned. He felt apprehensive about the severity of the cancer, and the possibility that it might spread.  

I was worried because both he and my grandmothers had breast cancer, and one of them died from secondary breast cancer. I was also aware that men could get breast cancer, and I knew it was rare. 

After the surgery, though, both my mum and dad seemed very relaxed about the situation and assured me that the doctor had removed all the cancer.  

Because of the operation, though, he also got lymphoedema with swelling in his arm. He had to have weekly visits to the hospital and wear arm sleeves to relieve the swelling. The arm felt a little dead at first, but has since recovered to be almost normal. Also, because the chest wall was scraped, there has been some loss of muscle and his chest aches if he has done too much physical work. 

Overall, Dad didn’t feel much stigma around being a man with breast cancer – he just feels a little self-conscious when going for a swim now. 

I wanted to do something challenging 

I got the idea to do a fundraiser in December 2019. I was thinking about both my dad and my father-in-law (who died from prostate cancer) and wanted to do something that would help raise awareness and funds for both types of cancer. So, I decided to run 12 marathons in 12 months. 

I’ve never really enjoyed running marathons (I ran a few about 20 years ago, but none since), so I saw it as a way of showing that I was willing to suffer for the cause. It needed to be a hard feat in order to raise money for the charities – and also, I do love a challenge! 

I’ve even run a double marathon, which took me nine hours and 59 minutes – something I doubt I’ll be repeating! 

But, believe it or not, I have loved every minute of it so far. I’ve raised nearly £5,700 so far, and people are still donating. 

I just want to ensure that people are aware that this can happen, that they check often for early signs and symptoms, and there’s no need to be afraid to go to the doctor.  

 

If you're interested in taking on a challenge to raise money for Breast Cancer Now, we'd love to have you on board. We'll even help you with your fundraising efforts!

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