Recently, Narrabri’s Beryl Heath was listening to a segment on ABC radio about a breast cancer awareness campaign that aims to encourage men to get checked for the disease.
The segment featured passionate and articulate advocate Alice Carmichael who sadly lost her father Rhod Carmichael to breast cancer, she is on a mission to make sure people know men can be diagnosed with the disease too.
The interview prompted Mrs Heath to contact The Courier and share her husband’s story because she believes it’s an incredibly important campaign.
“The community should know about men having breast cancer, and men should be aware that they should get tested too,” said Mrs Heath.
“My husband Bill has had two breasts removed,” said Mrs Heath.
“The first breast removal was done in 2003 and he had chemotherapy treatment, and the second was removed in 2015.
“But he’s still alive today because he went to the doctor.
“He’s 95-years-old,” said Mrs Heath.
Mr and Mrs Health are well-known Narrabri residents and readers would know the much-loved couple from their countless community endeavours over the years including Mr Heath’s time as Narrabri Municipal Council Mayor, musical tunes with the Sylaphonic Singers group and Mrs Heath’s good work with the Hospital Auxiliary.
The couple are residents at Whiddon’s Robert Young residence and The Courier did an interview with the pair over the phone for this story due to COVID-19 precautions.
Mr Heath told The Courier that he discovered a “little lump” in 2003 and went to the local doctor with Beryl.
“At the time, I wasn’t aware of breast cancer in men,” said Mr Heath.
“But I certainly was the second time I got breast cancer.
“I was the first male patient operated on in Tamworth for a breast removal (in 2003).
“And I was the first male patient at Tamworth Hospital to have two breasts taken off.”
Mr Heath said he wanted to encourage all men to be aware of indications and symptoms of breast cancer.
At 95, Mr Heath said he’s generally in good health and said there’s no doubt he’s a cancer survivor because he went to the doctor when he first found a lump.
“I’m very lucky, I’ll be 96 on July 22 and Beryl and I have been married for 72 years.”
According to the National Breast Cancer Foundation one in 675 men in Australia are diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime.
More than 90 per cent of men diagnosed are over 50.
“Both men and women have breast tissue, although women have a lot more breast tissue and are more likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer than men, cancers can also develop in male breast tissue,” said the NBCF.
The NBCF said symptoms of breast cancer in men are similar to those that women experience. These include; a lump in the breast, such as a painless lump close to the nipple, a change in the skin colour, texture and appearance of the breast, such as thickening, swelling or dimpling of the skin, a change in the shape and appearance of the nipple or pectorals, discharge from the nipple, pain in the breast region and swollen lymph nodes (glands) under the arm.To order photos from this page click here