Breast Cancer: One Man's Journey
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Dan Miller knew breast cancer was a possibility. The BRCA-2 gene mutation linked to breast cancer is prevalent on his mother’s side of the family. Many of Dan’s cousins have tested positive for the BRCA-2 gene mutation and many have had breast cancer. His mother beat the disease.
Dan also tested positive for the BRCA-2 gene mutation, but he was more concerned about colon or prostate cancer than breast cancer.
So eight years later, when at 41 Dan discovered a hard mass in his left breast, it was a surprise. "I was one of those people who think men don’t really get breast cancer," says Dan, "but they do."
He turned to the Swedish Cancer Institute, and things moved quickly. Within eight days, Dan had a mammogram, ultrasound and biopsy. He met with a radiologist, who diagnosed the cancer, and then a surgeon and oncologist. His treatment plan was set: chemotherapy first and then surgery.
"It was extremely efficient and very impressive," says Dan. "The doctors were great and I liked the fact that Swedish had a cancer institute with specialists. Everyone was very knowledgeable. They sat and talked with me, and I got the information my family needed to make decisions."
Dan underwent chemotherapy and a double mastectomy. "I decided on a double mastectomy because it seemed like the safest thing to do," he says.
Next up, a year of post-surgery treatment: an infusion of Herceptin, an immune targeted therapy, every three weeks.
"What’s really been helpful in all of this is the continuity of care and integrated approach at Swedish," Dan says. "All of the doctors on your team share information and that has made communications – just the whole process – much smoother."
Treatment itself hasn’t always been easy, but Dan’s wife and two young daughters have been his inspiration.
And Dan says he found a second family at the Swedish Cancer Institute: "Everybody there was very supportive, very welcoming. They know who you are, they care. It was as good as it could get in a tough situation."
Dan has chronicled his journey through breast cancer here at Caring Bridge.
His message for other men: "Men do get breast cancer, so be aware."