LAS VEGAS (KLAS) – October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and while breast cancer is much more common in women, men can be diagnosed too.
Rick Rosen said there was no history of breast cancer in his family, but it was a short period before his sister would be diagnosed with breast cancer, then his mom and him.
“I was showering and shaving to go down to visit them and looked in the mirror and one nipple was in and one was out and I touched the one that was depressed and there was a lump under it,” explained Rosen. “There was no pain, nothing associated with it. Had a mammogram, had a biopsy, and went back over and a doctor I’ve never seen before came out of this little doorway and just as close as I am sitting to you and without many words other than hi I’m Dr. Duke, he said you’ve got breast cancer and you could’ve knocked me off that chair with a feather.”
The news turned his life upside down. At the time of his diagnosis, Rosen was only 40 years old and had a family at home.
“I had to think of the realities, my mom was dying and I had the surgery and I went down, and like two weeks before she died, I got to spend time with her, hospice was taking care of her,” added Rosen. “My sister died on August 15th which was my very last day of chemo and two weeks after that before Labor Day, I was paralyzed from Guillian Barre Syndrome whether it was from a compromised immune system from the chemotherapy and all that, whatever it was they don’t know what brought it on but I was in a wheelchair for 6 months.”
According to the National Cancer Institute, male breast cancer makes up less than 1% of all cases of breast cancer.
Rosen knew he wanted to make a difference by sharing his story, even if it meant saving one life.
“They did not know how to treat me as a male and this is at the VA hospital which is heavily weighted towards males. I think I was their 4th ever male breast cancer patient,” said Rosen. ” I went to the Susan G. Komen Foundation to find out about male breast cancer, and they got back with me and said would you put your story up because we don’t have anything. So I put my story up online and wrote it out and I would get a call every three months and someone would call and say my dad has breast cancer, what’s he going to go through? You get a lot of survivor’s guilt. I don’t believe any of the people who called me survived and I did.”
Despite his ordeal, Rosen said he’s had a successful life, from a decorated career to covering various sports, to having a radio show at Caeser’s Palace and as a military veteran.
“My mom told me just before she died, don’t ever forget that life is for the living and she said you enjoy your life and I’m one of the luckiest men on Earth,” Rosen said.
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