A man who was diagnosed with breast cancer a month before his 30th wedding anniversary felt “isolated and lonely,” when an online support group refused membership due to gender.
David McCallion, 55, from Manchester, who is one of only 390 men who are diagnosed with the condition every year in the UK under the charity Prevent Breast Cancer, did not know any other male patients to share, so he searched online.
Faced with a breast amputation and living with the fear that his condition might be hereditary because his mother also had breast cancer, the community worker urgently needed support outside his family.
“I tried to join a support group on Facebook. But they kind of politely told me that because I was a man, it could prevent members from opening – so I thought it was best that I didn’t participate. I was actually denied membership, “he said.
David McCallion, 55, (photo) from Manchester, who was diagnosed with cancer in 2019, revealed that he was being refused membership of a support group on Facebook
David (photo) started a debilitating chemotherapy regimen on December 5, which will end at the end of next month
He continued: “I felt as if I was playing in it. But the last thing I wanted to do was jump up and down and say, “Look at me, I also have breast cancer.”
“But if the other 389 men feel something like me, something must be done for men with breast cancer.
“I will never be the same person as before my diagnosis, because I politely didn’t realize how lonely this disease is.
“Cancer is a lonely point. But being a man in what I call the ‘pink world’ of breast cancer – that’s even more lonely. “
David, who has two sons, builder, Ryan, 27, and communications professional, Liam, 25, with his caring wife, Julie, 54, now wants to break taboos around male breast cancer, causing other men to question his masculinity.
He said, “When I tell other guys about my diagnosis, I half say,” Men don’t get breast cancer, “and I pick up my shirt and say,” Yes, they do. “
“Some ask why I’ve had it, as if they want to say,” Are you really a man? “
David initially thought that his inverted nipple (photo) was related to gynecomastia, but a doctor referred him to the Royal Oldham Hospital in Greater Manchester
David (pictured after breast amputation) asked to postpone his operation until after his 30th wedding anniversary, which involved a road trip and a weekend in London
‘I don’t care what people say about things like that. I have been married for 30 years, I have two sons and two grandchildren. “
David was diagnosed with gynecomastia in 2015, a common condition that makes men’s breasts larger than normal, according to the NHS.
In April 2019, he noticed that his right nipple was reversed and thought it had to be related to the condition.
David said: ‘I had seen my doctor for about a year because I struggled with fear after losing my mother, Joan at the age of 91 in June 2018, after a long fight with dementia and breaking her hip.
“Then, in May 2019, I just left his operation when I lifted my jumper and said,” What is this? “.
“The doctor looked at my nipple and told me not to panic, but to exclude a few things.”
David was referred to the Greater Oldham Hospital in Greater Manchester on July 10, 2019 and was not “overly concerned.”
“I just assumed it had something to do with my husband’s boobs,” he added.
A consultant told the social worker (pictured with his wife, Julie, 54) that he had grade two invasive ductal carcinoma
After a physical examination, a mammogram and an ultrasound, doctors then told David that he needed a biopsy in which a tissue sample was taken and further examined.
“They could rule out a cyst right away and 20 minutes after the biopsy, the doctor said he thought there was a 99 percent chance that it would become cancer,” David said.
“The first thing I thought was,” How the hell am I going to tell my family? “
“My second thought was:” How am I going to tell everyone that I have breast cancer – as a man? “
“I didn’t know if I was coming or going – my head was completely gone.”
When he returned to the hospital with his wife on July 24, a consultant explained that David had grade 2 invasive ductal carcinoma, which is located in the breast canal and surrounding tissue.
What are the symptoms of breast cancer in men?
Breast cancer is rare in men. About 390 men are diagnosed in the UK every year. This is comparable to around 54,800 cases in women.
The most common cancer in women and men is called “invasive breast carcinoma – not a special type.”
The risk factors for male breast cancer include:
- Become older
- High estrogen levels
- Men who are overweight (obese)
- chronic liver disorders, such as cirrhosis
- Some genetic disorders
- Klinefelter syndrome
- Exposure to radiation
- Family members with breast cancer or a breast cancer gene
The most common symptom for men with breast cancer is a lump in the breast area. This is almost always painless.
Other symptoms may include:
- oozes from the nipple (a discharge) that may contain blood stains
- chest swelling
- a sore area (ulcer) in the skin of the breast
- a nipple that is pulled into the breast (called retraction of the nipple)
- nods under the arm
- a rash on or around the nipple
The same treatments are used for breast cancer in men and women.
Source: Cancer Research UK
According to Prevent Breast Cancer, which claims that 80 men die each year from the disease in the UK, this is the most common form of breast cancer in men and women.
David said: ‘For the next eight minutes, everything the doctor said was addressed to my wife, and in the end I had to tell him to talk to me and not to her.
“I got pretty angry, but later apologized and explained that I need breast cancer – it’s mine.
“He explained that he is making this news known to women day after day, and that is why he did not address me at first. Since then, however, he has been brilliant. “
After being told that a full breast amputation on his right chest was the best course of action, David asked to postpone the operation until after his 30th wedding anniversary, on August 19.
“The doctor told me the goal was to cure the cancer, but they wanted to do everything possible to make sure it didn’t come back,” he said.
‘But it’s not your 30-year marriage every day and I wanted to celebrate that before the operation.
“We had a bit of a road trip on the way to Birmingham to meet family before we spent a weekend in London.
“We walked around until our legs fell off, went on a boat trip and were real tourists.”
The 55-year-old (photo) also suffering from an abortional aortic aneurysm, said he didn’t want Julie to think he was worried when preparing for surgery
Then, on September 25, at North Manchester General Hospital, David, who also suffers from an abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) – a lump in the aorta, had the main blood vessel flowing down from the heart through the chest and abdomen – mastectomy.
He also removed a lymph node to test for cancer traces.
The AAA, which was diagnosed in October 2018 when it emerged during a scan of its painful left hip, is being checked by doctors, but does not need treatment yet.
David said: ‘The doctors told me that anesthesia could raise my blood pressure and cause complications, but vascular surgeons were there as a backup during breast amputation.
“Julie was with me until I had to put on my dress and I gave her a quick hug and said:” See you later. ‘I didn’t want her to think that I was worried, but with the extra complication of the AAA, of course. “
Surrounded by smiling faces when he came from the two-hour operation, David was told that his operation had been a success.
But after the lymph node was tested positive for cancer, David – who was not offered any reconstructive surgery and would not – had another 24 removed on October 24.
Fortunately, none of the other lymph nodes was cancer, but on December 5 he started a debilitating chemotherapy regimen, receiving treatment every week that will end at the end of next month.
David then receives 15 days of radiotherapy in April, before using Tamoxifen, a hormone therapy that helps prevent the disease from returning for five to ten years.
“The side effects are worthless,” he said.
“I had infection after infection, intestines and a sinus infection that lasted nine weeks.
“To say the least, it was a bit of a rocky ride, but people are a lot worse off than me, so I thank my lucky stars.”
David is also confronted with the prospect that his breast cancer is hereditary, as his mother had it in her eighties.
Once his treatment is complete, he will be tested for BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene mutations, which occur in families and increase the chances of developing breast, ovarian, colon and prostate cancer, according to the NHS.
“My mother’s cancer was similar to mine, so it’s a concern that it can be hereditary,” he said.
David (photo) has now found an awareness campaign about male breast cancer, founded by a woman whose partner suffered from the condition
“The doctors made no suggestion and we don’t know for sure what kind of mother it was – it was so long ago – so we can only hope it isn’t hereditary.
‘I have not yet been tested for the BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes, they are waiting until after the treatment.
“If I have them, my boys also have to be checked, but I told them not to worry until I get tested.
“I just hope that my breast cancer is a fluke or a case of bad luck and not hereditary.”
As David’s cancer journey progressed, he found #bluegetittoo, an awareness campaign about breast cancer in men, started by a woman diagnosed with the partner.
He continued: “Not long after I was effectively signed out of a support group, I was looking on the internet for places to talk about male breast cancer and found a Facebook page set up by Lorraine Milligan, who wanted to provide support after her. partner was diagnosed.
“At the time, there were only about 11 people who enjoyed it, but it was great to see people talking about breast cancer in men with the hashtag #bluegetittoo.”
Now David wants to make men aware that breast cancer can also affect them, and urges them to check for obvious symptoms.
David (photo) urges men to talk more about their health and to examine their bodies regularly because he believes men always show up at the doctors late
“Men need to talk more about their health,” he said. “By the time they finally do it, it’s often too late.
“There is a culture of control below for testicular cancer and that needs to be expanded with other areas, including the breast area.
‘Choose a day of the month – it can be a birthday or payday – but choose a number and check your body once a month on that day.
‘Feel your chest, look at your body and examine it well.
‘Men always show up at the doctors late. I should have gone as soon as my inverted nipple appeared.
“Many people don’t believe this is happening, but 390 men are diagnosed with this disease every year, so breast cancer in men is absolutely real.”
Go to for more information about breast cancer in men and how to recognize the symptoms preventbreastcancer.org