‘It just didn’t seem right’: Man shares breast cancer survival story to spread awareness
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and statistics show almost 270,000 women have been diagnosed in the United States in 2019.
But the disease doesn’t just affect women; thousands of men are diagnosed each year.
“I learned to count your blessings, not your burdens. There’s so much to be thankful for,” David Shelton said.
In 2010, Shelton noticed he had a lump while in the shower. He didn’t think anything of it and went to have it removed, and was diagnosed with breast cancer.
“Initially when I heard I had cancer, I was calling it chest cancer because I had never heard of a man having breast cancer,” Shelton said.
It’s uncommon but it’s not unlikely. In 2019, nearly 3,000 men were diagnosed with a disease many think can only affect women.
“It just didn’t seem right to have breast cancer,” Shelton said.
Dr. Harry Bear, chair of Surgical Oncology at VCU, says breast cancer in men almost always occurs under the nipple.
“They may be concerned it’s a feminizing event or something that makes them less male. It’s not. All men have some sort of breast duck tissue,” Bear said.
It took some time, years and a mastectomy before Shelton was comfortable uttering those words.
“I finally decided it was ok to say breast cancer,” Shelton said.
His license plate says “MENTOO” and it goes with him everywhere he goes in an effort to let other men know they are not alone.
In May, he joined thousands of survivors at ‘The Susan Komen Walk for a Cure’ and got a well-needed reminder seeing other men there who went through the same battle he fought.
“I’m not going to say it was nice to see someone else who had breast cancer, but it made me feel OK there was someone else,” Shelton said.
As he sits nearly 10 years cancer-free, he’s grateful to be able to share his message.
“Be thankful, be thankful, be thankful. I am thankful,” Shelton said.
You can find more information on breast cancer