The UK’s largest grant-making breast cancer charity, Walk the Walk, best known for organising the iconic MoonWalk events, is raising awareness that men get breast cancer too!
Walk the Walk has been at the forefront of spreading the word about breast cancer in men since they launched a special campaign during Breast Cancer Awareness Month 2017.
Three hundred and fifty* men a year are diagnosed with breast cancer in the UK and 80* men die of the disease. However, a survey published by Walk the Walk, and carried out by YouGov, showed that while 82% of British men are aware they can get breast cancer, 54% of men had never checked their breasts for symptoms of the disease.
After speaking to six men who have had breast cancer, Walk the Walk brought them together in what is believed to be the largest group of men who have had the disease, to have gathered in the UK. Some of the men had never met another male breast cancer patient before and they shared their incredible stories with each other and with the media.
Since starting their campaign, Walk the Walk has spoken to a number of other men who have had breast cancer and they are helping the charity to spread the word even further.
So what else is Walk the Walk doing to help? Over the last 23 years, Walk the Walk has granted more than £34 million to Breast Cancer Now for a variety of research projects including Breast Cancer Now’s Male Breast Cancer Study, the largest of its kind looking into the causes of breast cancer in men. Walk the Walk is also one of the major funders of the Breast Cancer Now Tissue Bank – where researchers have been able to study samples of male breast tumours from the Tissue Bank. With men currently treated for breast cancer in the same way as women, all breast cancer research funded by Walk the Walk has the potential to benefit men as well as women.
Mike Greenhalgh, a retired GP from Abthorpe, is one of the men involved in Walk the Walk’s ongoing campaign. Mike visited Penny Brohn UK when he was undergoing treatment for breast cancer:
“Back in 2014, I discovered two lumps in my breasts – one on each side. I noticed a small lump near my left nipple and a smaller swelling on my right breast, although the one on the right was more difficult to find. After a couple of months, my wife prompted me to speak to my own doctor. I have Parkinson’s and we thought it might be a side effect of my medication.
My GP referred me to a consultant surgeon and I was seen within a few days. A few days after my biopsy, I had a phone call from my consultant asking to see me. I was very surprised when I saw him and he told me that I had breast cancer. I hadn’t even contemplated that it might be breast cancer.
I was diagnosed with breast cancer on both sides – bilateral breast cancer is very unusual in men. I had a double mastectomy, lymph gland clearance on both sides, as well as chemotherapy and radiotherapy. I am also taking Tamoxifen and have annual check ups.
When I was diagnosed, I had been a GP for 27 years, but had never seen a case of male breast cancer in my surgery, nor had my own GP. Outside my work, I had also never met another man with breast cancer.
“I received support from Penny Brohn UK while I was going through my treatment. It was very helpful to talk to other people going through cancer and to see what Penny Brohn had to offer. I was able to talk about my medication and learn relaxation techniques and they helped me with my well-being, approach to life and living a healthy lifestyle.”
All of the wonderful men taking part in The MoonWalk London or The MoonWalk Scotland receive a very special ‘Blue Bra’ t-shirt! These fabulous t-shirts were introduced for the first time last year as part of Walk the Walk’s on-going campaign to raise awareness about breast cancer in men.
Over the years, Walk the Walk has granted in excess of £25 million to Penny Brohn to help deliver services to people living with cancer. To find out more, or to sign up for this year’s disco-themed MoonWalk London on Saturday 11 May, visit: walkthewalk.org
- *Source: Breast Cancer Now, March 2019
- **Source: Walk the Walk, September 2017