Every year, more than 400  men in the US will die from breast cancer. While people are becoming more aware that this disease can affect men, many others still do not know that men can get breast cancer. While many people turn their face away from this disease, others are speaking up.

One such ardent advocate is Steve Del Gardo who is raising the bar on awareness of male breast cancer and pushing for earlier detection. Many men are diagnosed later in the disease just because of their lack of knowledge that men can get the disease. Steve is a survivor of male breast cancer and founded Protect the Pecs, a non-profit organization that aims to help fight male breast cancer. I recently had the great pleasure to interview and here are his answers

 

1. You have been a strong advocate for men with breast cancer and have shared your own personal story before? What led to your advocacy?
When I was going through my journey, there was no indication that there were support groups for men with this cancer or foundations or education or anything. It was like we were the forgotten ones. I wanted to be a voice for all men that were going through the journey as well as those that lost. I wanted to give the World a symbol not a ribbon but a symbol of a warrior that fights for all breast cancer, a fighter. So, Protect The Pecs was born. The logo of a boxer with Pink and Blue gloves. It isn’t just Pink anymore, it is Pink and Blue! 
2. Do you think enough is being done to meet the needs of men with breast cancer? Why or why not? 
The awareness is getting better. I am seeing other foundations that are now including their services to help men fighting this disease. Change is starting to happen but very slowly. It will take time.
3. What do you think needs to change in the US in terms of male breast cancer?
Society needs to change their behavior towards breast cancer in general. For the last 30 years, we have been taught that only women get breast cancer. Everything we see today is targeted to women and we as a Nation need to wake up. And realize that men are susceptible to breast cancer. It is hereditary. Men need to be educated. Men need to learn to step up and take responsibility for their health. The way to do this is to partner with all the State, local and Federal health departments to start educating the public with PSA videos, literature and more.  Also, we need to rename of the breast cancer centers. Instead of saying breast cancer center for women it needs to be non-gender specific. I think more men will be comfortable going to a location to get checked. It may save a life!
4. What obstacles exist for men with this disease?
I think the obstacles that men face with this disease is how society views them. Men feel isolated. ashamed and embarrassed. 
5. What message would you like to tell men?
Well, I can give the message stating “Don’t Give Up” but I think a tough love approach needs to happen. So, here it is…..If you know there is breast cancer in your family, be a responsible man and get the BRCA testing done. If you discover a lump. see your doctor immediately, don’t ignore it, no need to be macho or think it will go away. Be responsible! Be a Man! Take care of your health! 
6. What one thing do you think could be done to save lives for men with this disease? 
We need to change the rhetoric that it isn’t a women’s disease anymore. We need to educate everyone that breast cancer doesn’t discriminate and it is ok to discuss the topic with their males in their families and their social circles.
7. What specific plans do you have in the works for 2018?
Protect The Pecs is working on partnering with the UFC and Indy 500 to raise awareness of male breast cancer and the importance of getting the BRCA testing done. Also, I will be speaking at international medical conferences in a places such as Venice, Italy. It will be at Cancer/Research Conference. I realize that we are all in this fight together to find a cure by raising funds for research especially for metastatic breast cancer.  We will be partnering with a Cancer Research Lab in 2018 and get the public do directly donate to the facility on behalf of Protect The Pecs.
To view more information on male breast cancer, visit:  https://www.protectthepecs.org/

© 2018, Linda Girgis MD. All rights reserved.

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