Not just women

Ross Schumacher with Breast Cancer Clinical Nurse Consultant Ash Mondolo and Clinical Nurse Olivia Gee.

When Ross Schumacher lost his mother to breast cancer 30 years ago, he had no idea that one day he would be fighting the same disease.

Mr Schumacher is one of more than 200 Australian men who will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year – a diagnosis most men never imagine they could receive.

Mr Schumacher is speaking out during Breast Cancer Awareness Month to warn men that they too are at risk from a cancer which kills 3200 Australians a year.

The 63-year-old underwent surgery at Mater Private Hospital Brisbane earlier this month and began chemotherapy treatment this week.

The freelance TV cameraman had just returned to Brisbane from filming an overseas golf tournament last month when he realised something was wrong.

“I was just relaxing on the couch at home when I found a lump on my chest, just beside my right nipple,” he said.

“I’d had a few cysts before, but this seemed very different, very hard. Straightaway my wife, who’s a nurse, said ‘You are seeing a GP tomorrow.”

Following an urgent scan and biopsy, an anxious Mr Schumacher returned to his GP.

“My GP told me that the biopsy had shown breast cancer. I said ‘So male breast cancer is a thing?’ and she replied ‘Absolutely – one in a 100 cases are male’.”

As well as losing his mother to breast cancer, Mr Schumacher successfully beat prostate cancer five years ago. The eldest of his two sons battled testicular cancer as a teenager and his youngest son also survived a brain tumour as a child after being diagnosed with Neurofibromatosis type 1.

“I was obviously surprised to find out I have breast cancer, but I’ve been exposed to cancer several times before,” Mr Schumacher said.

“This is just another type of cancer and it can happen to anyone, even though it’s rare for men.

“Some people say there’s a stigma for men, but that’s not true. Everyone has been very empathetic to me and there’s no need to be secretive about this – it’s totally the opposite.

“Men need to hear that breast cancer can affect them too. They need to look out for lumps and to get their skin checked every year.”

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