Breast Cancer Knows No Gender

As we step into October, a month universally recognised as Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I wish to revisit this topic as a gentle reminder to all of us concerning the threat posed by breast cancer. However, the primary objective here is to dispel some longstanding misconceptions. It is an error to assume that only women should be vigilant. This awareness campaign must extend to men as well, for the simple reason that anyone can be afflicted or experience its symptoms.

Surprisingly, I find myself among those affected.

Male breast cancer is an infrequent occurrence, accounting for just 0.5–1% of all breast cancer cases. While the numbers may seem small, they do not warrant complacency.

I am fortunate that, alhamdulillah, I have not (or have not yet) had to face breast cancer. Hence, labelling myself as a survivor would be inaccurate. However, what I can confirm is that I underwent a biopsy well before it could have been too late—specifically, a mastectomy.

In men, once a breast cancer diagnosis is made, a mastectomy is typically performed. An excisional biopsy is the most comprehensive type of biopsy, aiming to remove the entire suspicious lump of tissue from the breast.

Reflecting on the past, at the close of 2014 (upon my return to Jakarta after an overseas assignment), I consented to a doctor’s request for a biopsy due to the discovery of a bothersome lump in my right breast. As time elapsed, it became increasingly discomforting (perhaps because I am not a woman, haha). The pain was minimal, akin to a slight “nyut-nyut,” but it was enough to raise concern.

Consequently, I opted for early detection at RS Kanker Dharmais. This entailed a mammogram, a physical examination, and a thorough inquiry into medical history, family genetics, and even lifestyle factors by the attending physician.

The surgical procedure itself took place at RS Pasar Rebo, where the internist overseeing my case practised.

The significance of breast examination and the notion of “early detection” became profoundly meaningful through my experience. Even two years after the biopsy, I continued to monitor my condition at least every six months. Fortunately, up to this point, no significant issues have arisen, and I hope they never will.

Since that pivotal biopsy, I have had to make certain lifestyle adjustments, whether willingly or not. It was a necessity, as I did not wish for that “suspicious lump” to grow and gradually harm me from within.

So, dear friends, my intention is not to instil fear in you. However, please take heed of this message: even if you have not yet consulted a physician, make a conscious effort to perform SADARI, periksa payudara sendiri, or self-examine your breast health.

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