Early Diagnosis Brings Success for Male Breast Cancer Survivor

Breast cancer in men is rare, but can happen.

Thomas “Tom” Cole, 71, never imagined he would be diagnosed with breast cancer. Cole and his wife were traveling for a wedding when he noticed an abnormal lump on his left breast.

“I took a shower one evening and felt this lump on my breast,” Cole explained. “I told my wife that it didn’t feel right and asked her to look at it.”

Cole’s wife urged him to make an appointment with his primary care provider as soon as they returned home.

“My doctor agreed it didn’t look right and wanted me to go to BSA Harrington Cancer Center,” Cole shared. “I had an appointment within the week.”

Cole was scheduled for his first mammogram and an hour later, received a sonogram. Concerning imaging resulted in a biopsy.

“I really thought it was going to be a cyst,” Cole said. “I never even considered breast cancer. Breast cancer was the least of my thoughts.”

With no history of cancer in his family, breast cancer seemed to be a long shot. Cole was diagnosed with Stage 2 Non-Aggressive Infiltrating Ductal Carcinoma in November 2018. In the following days, Cole met BSA Harrington Breast Center Oncology Nurse Navigator, Betsy Weaver.

“Betsy is excellent,” Cole shared. “One thing she did that my family and I appreciated was she recorded everything my doctors said so I would have a copy of exactly what was discussed.”

Betsy attended every appointment, including Tom’s visits with his surgeon, Dr. Michael Lary with BSA Amarillo Surgical Group.

“Dr. Lary is a fantastic surgeon and he is very professional,” Cole said. “He gave me the most thorough exam I’ve had since back in my Army days. I was very pleased with his thoroughness.”

Cole was scheduled for a radical mastectomy on December 14, 2018. During surgery, Dr. Lary removed lymph nodes for further testing.

“I’ve healed up well and stayed away from the lymphedema part of it,” Cole shared. “The lymph nodes came back without any trace of cancer, thank the Lord.”

Cole also had BRCA genetic testing, and tested negative. The day before Christmas Eve, Tom received even better news. His test results indicated that radiation was not needed. In the days to follow, Cole was able to ring in the New Year as a cancer survivor.

“Betsy called me on New Year’s Eve to tell me the news and said no chemotherapy is needed,” Cole said. “It was a great burden lifted. I was so relieved.”

In 2018, Cole was only the second man treated for breast cancer at BSA Harrington Cancer Center. Less than one percent of all breast cancer develops in males.

Cole is now advocating for men with breast cancer in hopes to inform, educate and bring awareness to the disease and how it can affect men.

“I feel like I have a responsibility to share my story. Part of my success is because of the early diagnosis,” Cole shared.

Cole’s faith helped him through this experience, as well as his support received from his family and BSA Harrington Cancer Center.

“There was no fear ever, and still none,” Cole said. “I am a child of God and I am not afraid. I would absolutely recommend BSA Harrington Cancer Center.”

As Cole continues to receive hormone therapy at BSA Harrington Cancer Center, he is looking forward to traveling with his wife and spending time with his children, grandchildren and dogs.

“Life is good,” Cole shared. “I’m so thankful my wife urged me to make an appointment when she did.”

To learn more about BSA Harrington Cancer Center click here. To schedule a mammogram, call the BSA Harrington Breast Center at 806-212-1905.