Breast Cancer: It’s Not Just A Woman’s Disease
“You have invasive breast cancer.” Those are words that an estimated 266,120 women in the United States will hear this year. They definitely aren’t the words Steve Sempsrott from Lebanon ever expected he would hear from his doctor.
When Steve noticed a ping pong ball size lump on his chest in May of this year, he asked his doctor about it. While the doctor didn’t think it was anything to be alarmed by, Steve was sent for a sonogram in early June. The sonogram was suspicious looking and he was quickly sent for a mammogram. The only issue was not many men get mammograms, so Steve had to wait for the women to be cleared out of the mammogram area. On June 10, 2018 Steve received the results that he had breast cancer.
The mammogram results that showed he had breast cancer quickly lead to a needle biopsy and a PET scan. The diagnosis was that he had stage 1 HER2 positive, hormone receptor positive breast cancer. What followed were appointments with doctors and oncologists to make sure they had the right approach to effectively treat his breast cancer. On July 16, 2018 Steve received his first chemotherapy treatment. He has received chemo every 3 weeks since then to reduce the size of his cancer. Next month, he is scheduled for a double (bilateral) mastectomy. After surgery, he is scheduled for six more rounds of hormone suppressors. Then he hopes to be declared cancer free!
While breast cancer in men isn’t as common as breast cancer in women, still about 2,500 men in the United States will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year. As Steve says, “Cancer doesn’t discriminate. And it doesn’t wait on you.” According to the National Breast Cancer Foundation, men have a higher mortality rate than women primarily because awareness among men is less and they are less likely to assume a lump is breast cancer, which can cause a delay in seeking treatment.
Steve found out about the Sherry’s Run organization through working at Home Depot in Lebanon. Home Depot has had a team at the Sherry’s Run event the last few years and they do fundraisers throughout the year for their team to raise money. “We had a Taco Tuesday event for employees and there was a bucket where we could donate our change. Next to the bucket was some information about Sherry’s Run and the support groups. I picked up the information and took it home to read. I filled out the information and attended the support group,” says Steve.
“My biggest concern when I was diagnosed was being a burden,” says Steve. “I was concerned about being a burden physically, mentally and financially.” Because of the support and assistance provided by the Sherry’s Run organization, Steve’s concern about being a financial burden was eased.
“The Sherry’s Run organization is able to help Steve and others because of the support we receive from our community,” says Alisa Eakes, Director of Patient Assistance for Sherry’s Run. “Sherry’s Run has helped to relieve some of the financial burden often placed on a family when someone receives a cancer diagnosis. Also, through the support groups we have given patients and their families a place to come and share with others experiencing similar situations.”
For Steve, Sherry’s Run has been a tremendous help. And it’s because of this that Steve says, “I support Sherry’s Run because Sherry’s Run supports me.” Steve is confident he is beating this cancer diagnosis, in fact, he already has plans to volunteer at the Sherry’s Run event next September! While he can ride in the survivor’s trolley, Steve has bigger plans to roll up his sleeves and volunteer to help at the event!
“God isn’t going to put a mountain in front of me that I can’t climb,” says Steve. The Sherry’s Run organization just works to make that mountain a little easier to climb for Steve and others in our community facing a cancer diagnosis.