Roy explains what happened when he became one of about 350 men who are diagnosed with breast cancer every year in the UK.

Tuesday 20 December 2016      Health information blog

Roy Collins

I was diagnosed with breast cancer in October 2011.

I’ve always been someone who just gets in the shower, dries off, then gets dressed for work. It never crossed my mind to inspect my chest. So it was my wife who spotted that my nipple was looking odd. She said, “What’s the matter with your nipple? Why’s it turned in on itself?”

It didn’t hurt. I thought it was just cold. But my wife urged me to get an appointment with our GP as soon as possible. My GP quickly referred me for more investigations and I had a physical examination, scans and a biopsy.

Diagnosis and treatment

By the time the results were in, I was beginning to suspect it was serious. I told the consultant that I was keen for her to crack on and do whatever was necessary to treat the problem. I think that positive mental attitude made it easier for her to tell me that I had breast cancer. I was shocked.

Like most men, I didn’t think breast cancer could even affect men.

My cancer was quite aggressive and the consultant estimated it had already been growing for six months so I had a mastectomy, I had the lymph nodes in my right armpit removed and I had chemotherapy and then radiotherapy.

Support from my family

I knew that with the support of my wife and family, I would get through all the treatment and be stronger for it. My wife Teresa was also great at telling me off if I stepped out of line!

Teresa is a nurse and was able to care for me when I came out of hospital, doing things I would have needed a district nurse for otherwise - like cleaning my PICC line (the tube put into my vein to give me chemotherapy).

When my treatment made me unwell, Teresa felt helpless and hated seeing me suffer, but I am very, very grateful to her for helping me through it. Her son James has also been an asset when it came to helping his mum with those jobs I would normally do.

Since my hospital treatment

After I’d finished radiotherapy, I started taking tamoxifen and I’ve been having mammograms every six months to check for any recurrence of my breast cancer.

My only problem since my hospital treatment ended has been lymphoedema with extra fluid making my upper arm swell up. Linked to that I’ve had infections in my arm twice. They were a big deal at the time so now I wear gloves for extra protection when I’m gardening. If I get a scratch, I don’t want it to get infected. I don’t think you can be too careful.

In July 2016, I reached the milestone of five years clear of cancer and I feel well. Now I only need to have a mammogram every three years. I’m in a good place and I’m not worried about the future.

My advice for other men

I would advise any man to go straight to the GP if you feel something’s not natural for you or if you notice something new in your breast area. It may be rare, but men can get breast cancer too, so it's important to be aware.

More information

Find out more about breast cancer in men