Tallahassee man talks about his battle with breast cancer

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) – As we know, October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

The American Cancer Society estimates that more than 280,000 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed in women in the United States this year.

But that’s not the whole story.

WCTV spoke to a Tallahassee resident who wants people to remember: MEN ALSO UNDERSTAND IT.

“It was on November 1 at 5:45 p.m. when the doctor called me and told me I had breast cancer,” said Ambrose Kirkland, a resident of Tallahassee.

It was in 2001 when Kirkland was diagnosed.

“Most people, when they find out they have cancer of any kind, collapse and cry. I did not do it. I went to the store and bought some beer, ”he said.

“Truly?” Lanetra Bennett from WCTV asked.

“Yeah, because, you see, I guess because I’m different. I’ve always been a bit frank and crazy in my life, ”Kirkland replied.

Kirkland uses his humor and outspokenness to educate others and encourage women and men get screened for breast cancer.

“I’m crazy. Cancer chose the wrong person. He said.

Kirkland says it was he who first felt a lump on his chest, but ignored advice to get it checked out.

A few weeks later, he started to notice wet spots on his shirt that were getting bigger and bigger.

Then the area started to hurt and he eventually went to the doctor.

“She told me before she even sent the sample that, she said, ‘You probably have breast cancer,’” he said.

Kirkland’s response: “Men don’t have breast cancer.”

Doctors say it’s rare, but men also get breast cancer.

The American Cancer Society says that for women, the lifetime risk is 1 in 8. For men, it is about 1 in 800. The ACS estimates that about 2,600 new cases will be diagnosed in men. in the United States this year, and about 530 men will die. From this.

“The problem is, men don’t realize they can get it, so they can ignore their chest or chest wall,” said Dr. Karen Russell of Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare.

She says the most important thing with cancer in general is to be aware of the changes in your body.

“Most men with breast cancer will tell you, ‘Yes, I felt something or my skin was changing’ or ‘I had some blood from my nipple’ or something like that. . They weren’t thinking about it because it’s just a rare situation and you don’t see them, ”she said.

Dr Russell says the biggest risk factor is probably age.

“There are some that are inherited,” she said.

Kirkland’s paternal grandmother had breast cancer. Her aunt and sister, Jean, both died of breast cancer after Kirkland’s diagnosis.

He is now in remission.

“I laugh about it a lot and stay positive. It’s like, ‘Come on, bring it’ because I’m here 20 years later. Kirkland said

Her advice to others: “Don’t be afraid to reach out and ask for help. Don’t be afraid to live. Giving up is never an option.

“Aren’t you afraid of this fight?” Kirkland was asked.

“No. I’m going to run through the fire with two buckets, I’ll give it to you, go back to the other side,” he replied.

Kirkland carries an oxygen tube. Although his breast cancer is in remission, he is now battling heart failure and thyroid cancer.

Dr Russell says that for men with a family history of breast cancer in women or men, or early prostate cancer or even pancreatic cancer, they could be in the high risk group for the BRCA gene. , which she says can lead to a higher incidence. breast cancer in men.

For more information on human breast cancer, its symptoms, and how to prevent it, visit the American Cancer Society website at www.cancer.org.

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