Kent was traveling a lot for work, enjoying life with his wife, Bonnie, on the weekends. “Life was running smooth.” Then Kent discovered a lump in his breast, by his nipple. “Like any red-blooded American male, I ignored it!” It wasn’t until he noticed his inverted nipple that Bonnie raised the alarm.
Once Kent visited his doctor, she sent him immediately for a biopsy. And then came the diagnosis: breast cancer.
“Less than one percent? I could get hit by lightning. I had a better chance of winning the lottery! Anything is likelier than to get breast cancer [as a man],” shared Kent.
The diagnosis hit Kent like a ton of bricks. Bonnie, a former military medic, took the news and went into action mode. “As a woman, you know what treatments [for breast cancer] are around.”
Like many other males diagnosed with breast cancer, Kent’s initial prior authorization for a mastectomy was denied. But he did feel his doctors and other breast cancer patients treated him with great respect and attention.
After going through a mastectomy and chemotherapy, Kent was back to his normal life, playing football and enjoying life again.
And then Bonnie found a lump.
“It was just short of three years after Kent’s treatment. I found the lump 5 days before my scheduled mammogram.”
It was less than 10 minutes after leaving her annual mammogram that Bonnie received a call to come back for an ultrasound and biopsy. 10 days later she got her results: BREAST CANCER. “I started to cry because I saw what Kent had gone through.”
Although the lump in Bonnie’s breast was small, her surgeon noticed some lymph node swelling. After assessing the biopsy results, he recommended chemotherapy before surgery. Bonnie was crushed.
This time, Kent had to jump into action to support Bonnie. “I was scared. I was scared I wasn’t going to be able to support her as strongly as she supported me. My biggest fear is that she’s always been my rock, and when she needs me I’m not sure I’m as secure as she needs.”
While Bonnie was in treatment for her breast cancer, Kent developed a cough. One of the nurses noticed the cough and recommended Kent see his doctor. Because of his history, his doctor recommended a chest CT, which showed fluid in his lungs. Kent needed to have a thoracentesis to drain the fluid from his lungs and to acquire a sample to send to the pathologist. So on the second cycle of Bonnie’s chemotherapy, Kent found himself back with his doctor to share the results of his tests.
The results: Stage IV metastatic breast cancer.
“Stage IV is terminal. There is no cure.” Kent was given 5 to 7 years; that was two and a half years ago.
Stories like these punch us right in the gut. They break our hearts. They fill us with rage. They inspire us with their humor, resilience, and positive attitude. They remind us that bad things happen to good people. They remind us that a cancer diagnosis can often be as rare as being struck by lightning, but can leave you feeling like you actually did get stuck by that bolt.
It’s people like Bonnie and Kent -real people- who need innovations, discovered in research and created by innovators, for earlier diagnosis and more treatment options. We need to help support these innovations, created with well-funded research, to assist in getting them from lab to patient.