Tuesday, November 4, 2014

No. 1 book buyer survived breast cancer HIMself

First 'Rollercoaster' purchaser is male breast cancer survivor and a support group advocate

The very first buyer of my book, "Rollercoaster: How a man can survive his partner's breast cancer," was somewhat of a surprise.

He wasn't a caregiver for his wife. He was a breast cancer patient himself.

One of the unlucky 1 percent.

Gerry Bourguignon, a regular member of the support group that I, Woody Weingarten, have been leading almost 20 years, tells on our website — www.Marin-Man-to-Man.org — of his finding an early-stage small lump in his right breast in 2009.
Gerry Bourguignon

A biopsy showed that surgery, a modified mastectomy, was necessary to remove the tumor.

Eighteen months later, he stopped taking the post-surgical med tamoxifen — it's usually recommended for five years — because of "increasingly painful side effects [that] are generally worse for men compared to women."

But he felt okay — physically.

He needed support, however, and that's why he joined (and still attends) our group.

Gerry, a PhD and retired college prof who splits his time between homes in Pollock Pines and Mill Valley, California, is now on the board of directors of the To Celebrate Life Breast Cancer Foundation — www.tocelebratelife.org — an agency that since 1996 has granted more than $4 million to fund emergency and direct services for breast cancer patients.

Its basic mission is to raise money and give financial aid to other nonprofits that help people living with the disease.

Only 1 percent of all breast cancers occur in men — about 2,400 are diagnosed in the United States annually. That compares with nearly 250,000 women, which translates into roughly one every two minutes.

More than 2 million stateside women live with the chronic disease, and about 40,000 die of it each year.

Daunting statistics, perhaps.

But, as I note in "Rollercoaster," we all must remember that "each person is an individual, not a statistic (and that breast cancer couldn't care less about race, creed, sexual orientation or politics)."

Or, in fact, gender.

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