*Michael Mwajuma, 60
“In 2014 while taking a shower, I noticed what felt like a small stone on one side of my chest just around the breast area.
I made an appointment with a doctor who after examining the lump, advised to have it removed pending examination tests.
I knew though rare, men could get breast cancer. Even with this information, I doubted the diagnosis would reveal anything negative. Days later, tests revealed the lump was harmless. Relieved, I went home to wait for my wound to heal.
After six months the wound showed little sign of healing. My family advised me to visit another doctor. It was then that I learnt that I not only had a bigger lump growing behind the wound, but it was cancerous and was spreading fast.
The doctor said I had a 50-50 chance of survival. My mind was racing. I thought about my future and my family.
I kept asking, ‘why me?’
The diagnosis felt like a death sentence. I, however, shook myself and started working on cultivating an optimistic attitude.
After six sessions of chemotherapy, the doctor confirmed that the tumour had not shrunk or loosened. In fact, it had spread into my rib cage.
Since men’s breasts do not have as much mass and tissue that women’s breasts have, cancer spreads faster.
Cancer is so peculiar.
When you disturb a tumour, it mutates. One time as the doctor was examining the lump, it burst leaving a gaping hole.
Breast cancer is a woman’s disease
We speak about cancer in my home. But never outside.
My extended family and friends don’t know I’ve been battling breast cancer since 2014.
I had a mastectomy. My breast issues were removed. How do you start talking to people about that, especially in a culture that believes men have no breasts?
I once attended a support group for breast cancer survivors only to find that I was the only man there! The group had around 50 women. It made for an awkward conversation. I never attended another meeting after that
Since many people believe breast cancer to be a woman’s disease treatment for men is not specialised.
The medicine we use is formulated for women, for instance, women in menopause. I can’t relate! I’m currently undergoing hormonal therapy to reduce the amount of oestrogen in my body and I part with Ksh 500,000 per month for two types of drugs.
Despite all this, I’m doing better now.”
*Name changed to protect
Story by JOANNE GICHANA, HENRY KAHARA and ESTHER AKELLO