On this episode of the WE Have Cancer Podcast, John Falk joins Lee to discuss his journey with male breast cancer. John shares his experience from first being diagnosed through his journey to beat cancer twice. John is open and transparent about his experience as a way to educate, advocate, and change the perception of male breast cancer. Learn all about John’s incredible journey and how he's looking to improve male breast cancer awareness among the population.
John Falk was diagnosed with breast cancer not once, but twice. After finding a lump in his chest, he decided to get checked out. He was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2014, and then again in 2016. He advocates and brings awareness to men with breast cancer.
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In 2013, John noticed that his left breast had swelled up. After going to his primary care doctor, he was sent to a surgeon who specializes in breast cancer. Getting more tests, like a mammogram and biopsy, the results came back negative. However, in 2014, they came back positive.
- Being a man with a female-dominated illness
John talks about his experience in getting tested and going through the medical processes of being diagnosed with breast cancer and how it’s heavily focused on women. However, he didn’t care and found that the doctors were very empathetic to his situation.
- A quick recovery
When John got the news that he had cancer, he wasn’t afraid. At the time, it was stage 0. Doctors were able to go in and remove it all. He never got any other treatment. After the surgery, he resumed working like normal.
- Being transparent about his illness
Being very transparent and open, John didn’t want people to worry about him. This allowed him to share his story openly and help get through his situation with humor and friends. At work, when he was back from his treatment, a lot of humor helped him stay positive in the workplace.
- Diagnosed with male breast cancer . . . Again
Two years later, in 2016, the lump came back in his breast. John noticed it right away, and they went back in to do surgery to remove it. However, this time around it was invasive. They caught it early enough that other parts of his body weren’t attacked, but he did end up getting 30 radiation treatments.
- State of John’s health today
Today, John continues to take Tamoxifen and monitor his health carefully. His medication causes him few side effects, but other than that he remains in good health. John knows that his battle with cancer wasn’t nearly as difficult or hard as others. It wasn’t until the second time around with his battle that he decided to take action.
- Male breast cancer awareness
John realized how lucky he was to not only face and beat breast cancer once but twice. He noticed that there wasn’t a lot of talk or attention towards the men that struggle with it. John wanted to tell others his story, share his experience, and educate the public. He wanted to be an agent of change. From there, he does interviews, goes on TV, and does other things to bring awareness towards breast cancer in men.
- Finding support
John found most of his support through his family and friends, but that wasn’t the only place. He discovered Facebook groups that shared experiences like his and the Male Breast Cancer Coalition. This inspired him to use his Facebook page to advocate his story, but also gain support through his second diagnosis.
- The change John wishes he saw
John wants to see more recognition towards men that have breast cancer. Although a small percentage in comparison, male breast cancer absolutely exists. He wishes that some women's organizations were more inclusive to men and didn’t just feature women all the time.
- Being aware of your own body
When John first felt the lump on his chest, he knew that it wasn’t normal. He trusted his instinct and his body and made sure he got the help he needed. John wants everyone to advocate for themselves and know what is and what isn’t normal for their body – and to speak up when things change.
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Know someone touched by cancer who has an inspiring story? Email Lee