Kathy and Lee
Seven years ago my husband, Lee, was diagnosed with male breast cancer. I shouldn't call it male breast cancer as it has no distinction from the breast cancer that a woman may have. It is breast cancer in all its ugliness, peril, and dread.
With Lee's diagnosis, we felt it was important to raise awareness about the risks men can face. We shared our story with hundreds of people during the 3-Day 60 mile walks. We traveled to cities across the country, walking and talking, and walking some more. We participated in 15 events where Lee has stood singularly in the Survivors Circle as the only male, bringing attention to the fact that breast cancer can strike anyone. We have given speeches, received awards, and raised thousands of dollars all in the quest to make a small difference.
Then our daughter, Pamela, at 28 years of age, was diagnosed. She underwent a bi-lateral mastectomy and reconstruction, but thankfully escaped the need for any treatment. The cancer was caught early due in large part to knowing Pam was at high risk. She inherited Lee's BRCA gene. Lee's own breast cancer may have indeed saved our Pam's life.
Our family has been through a lot, but as Lee often says, there are people who have been through worse. And now "worse" has come to our door. After nearly seven years of being cancer-free, Lee is facing a recurrence. The breast cancer has metastasized. He is Stage IV. It is in his lungs, his bones, and his liver. Lee is in chemo for the second time of his life, fighting for his life.
Even though Stage IV breast cancer is not curable, breast cancer never is, there is hope. Hope is what the 3-Day gives us and gives many others. If you think all the walks, the races, the pink ribbons, and the attention that breast cancer gets is for naught, think again. Not only do these events raise critical dollars to fund research for treatments and ultimately a cure, they give survivors, co-survivors, and families of the fallen a way to hope and to heal.
Dwight Eisenhower once said, "Plans are worthless, but planning is everything." I don't know what tomorrow holds, but we are registered to walk in the 3-Day in 2013. Even if Lee is not up to walking 60 miles with me, I will walk for him. I intend to lay down my footsteps in solidarity with our fellow warriors to fight this unfair, unwelcome, and deadly disease.
Now more than ever we are dedicated, determined and desperate to find a cure.
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