By: Taren Vaughan
Breast cancer is a disease that has plagued the African American community for decades. Even with the scientific progress that has been made concerning breast cancer, it still continues to take the lives of millions of people worldwide. It is a known fact that the disease heavily affects the female gender, namely black women. But did you ever stop to think about the number of men that suffer from it also?
According to the National Cancer Institute, less than one percent of cancer cases are found in the male population. The most common age for men to develop this form of cancer is between ages 60 to 70 years old. This percentage may seem minute compared to the percentage of women who have breast cancer. However, one organization in particular feels that this number is well worth fighting for. The Sigma Phi Omega chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated is set to host their third annual “Real Men Wear Pink” fashion show. Participating male models will walk the runway in an assortment of pink and green clothing; the event will also include a dinner for attendees. Proceeds from the event will go towards the fight against breast cancer.
Having major organizations stand up for this cause is one thing. But when the survivors themselves speak out and actively involve themselves in the movement, the impact becomes that much greater.
Bret Miller was diagnosed with breast cancer as a college graduate. Can you imagine one of the most exciting times of your life being stifled by this shocking news? Fortunately for Miller, the cancer was in its first stage and had not yet spread to other organs. Like many other cancer survivors, he had to undergo rounds of chemotherapy, in hopes to lessen the chances of the cancer coming back. As a way to spread the awareness, Miller, along with 27,000+ people, participated in the Komen Greater Kansas City Race for the Cure. His mother, Peggy Miller, spoke out on the importance of men knowing that breast cancer affects both men and women:
“Awareness is the key for men because they don’t think they can get it. They don’t think anything of it. They’ve got to start talking to you guys, too”
Mrs. Miller is right. There are plenty of men out there who think that it’s unrealistic for them to develop breast cancer. Actor Richard Roundtree, best known for his role as “Shaft”, admitted that he too was oblivious to the fact that men could get breast cancer:
“When the doctor said ‘breast cancer,’ I thought he was questioning my manhood.”
More men should be aware of the statistics concerning breast cancer. African American males should especially take note of this disease as they are much more susceptible to numerous forms of cancer in general than men of other races. Although the number of men with breast cancer is low, that is one too many. Members of the black community should be aware of how this disease affects African American males. Despite what many may think, breast cancer is not just a woman’s disease.