“As a kid and even now an adult, I think I’ve always seen my father as invincible; like nothing could stop him,” said Bridgette, a first-time Michigan 3-Day walker. “He’s super handy and can fix just about anything around the house (although the joke in the family is that it might lean a little to left when’s done with it). He’s hard working and always ready to lend a hand. Even as an adult, he checks in on me as like I am still his little daughter. I love my dad, and I know he loves me,” she said. That love is just one of the reasons she’ll be taking on the Michigan 3-Day this year; and the other is that Bridgette’s dad is a breast cancer survivor.
“It was a lucky cyst. That’s what the doctors told my dad.” In 2016, he had been having odd chest pain, and felt around his chest to find a lump. A biopsy confirmed it was benign, and that there was no cause for concern. Right before the procedure to drain the cyst, the doctors did one more scan – and this time, there was a new dark spot. A biopsy of this new dark area confirmed that he had breast cancer.
They scheduled a mastectomy of the left breast, but there was no radiation therapy and no chemotherapy. “One complete mastectomy of the left breast later, my dad is a survivor of breast cancer. But without the cyst, they would not have found the breast cancer so early.”
Bridgette had participated in a Komen 5k and donated to friends who were walking the 3-Day, but this year, she’s walking for the first time in Michigan. Bridgette knew men could get breast cancer, but she never knew of one who had. “However, since I’ve been raising funds for the 3-Day, I have learned of another male to have breast cancer (he also survived after a mastectomy).” Male breast cancer, while rare, is a reality. According to Komen.org, “In 2018, it’s estimated that among men in the U.S., there will be 2,550 new cases of invasive breast cancer (includes new cases of primary breast cancer, but not recurrences of original breast cancers).”
An active man, Bridgette’s dad works in the church as a lay leader, and helped to start the church’s food bank. He’s an Assistant Scoutmaster for the Boy Scouts, and an Advisor for his chapter of the Order of the Arrow. He loves sports and going to games, and is a Masonic lodge secretary. It’s safe to say Bridgette’s dad is always busy, and that survivorship was in his blood as a previous skin cancer and prostate cancer survivor, too.
But despite her dad’s now clean bill of health, Bridgette wants more justice in the fight against breast cancer. “What I can’t get out of my mind is that society begins to accept that losing a breast is normal,” she said. “It’s NOT! It’s gone. But so is part of your body. My dad won’t go swimming without a shirt now. He won’t even work around the house without a shirt on. Breast cancer doesn’t just leave just a physical scar, it leaves an emotional one. Not only do I hope to raise awareness by walking, I hopes the funds I raise will find a better cure than mastectomy,” she said.
As a working mom, a house fixer-upper, volunteer with the Jaycees and a treasurer of the Michigan JCI Senate, Bridgette also keeps busy, but follows her passion, “to make a difference – in the world or in someone’s life.” Bridgette, we’re pretty sure that just like your Dad, you will.
Help spread awareness of male breast cancer today. While it’s rare, it is real. For more resources on male breast cancer, visit Komen.org.