Jason Knipp

2021 Model Survivor

Jason Knipp

Male breast cancer? That’s a thing? Well yes, it is, and men with breast cancer represent just 1 percent of all breast cancers. Scary.

In late May 2019, I can home from work one evening and my wife and son noticed I had some blood spots on my white undershirt and asked what I had done to myself. Huh? I looked at it and just shrugged it off, thinking I likely brushed up against something or somehow cut myself and didn’t know it. But around my breast nipple? No pain either. Strange. A couple days later it happened again and it was more substantial. Something was not right.

After polite pressure from my wife, thankfully, I finally called my doctor. The first few weeks of June was a whirlwind. I had a mammogram (that really hurts men by the way), ultrasound, breast MRI, biopsy, genetic testing, and blood work completed, and on June 13th, 2019, it was confirmed that I had Stage 1 male breast cancer.

I found out I carried the BRCA 1 gene mutation as well. Passed down through family. Lucky me. On July 15th, I had a left-breast mastectomy. My surgeon, Dr. Mindi Beahm, did a fantastic job. Fortunately, it was not metastatic. I did not need radiation or chemotherapy and my wonderful Oncologist, Dr. Aruna Rokkam, only needed to prescribe Tamoxifen for the next 5+ years.

I was one of the lucky ones to catch it early. For a lot of men, the disease tends to be diagnosed in more advanced stages. Life changes for anyone with cancer (and those close to you). The entire cancer process is overwhelming and having male breast cancer meant that there was going to be even more attention. I was scared about what it meant to have male breast cancer because of the limited cases of men out there, and was worried about how doctors would approach male breast cancer versus female breast cancer. The research on men is simply not there.

I certainly went through a huge range of emotions just like everyone else does when faced with this disease. I stayed positive. I prayed. My wife, son, and family stayed positive and were very supportive. Friends and colleagues have been very supportive. I am very grateful for those in my life. Cancer is certainly a wake-up call to appreciate life and not waste time.

There are things to do and places to see. It has impacted the way I think by living more in the present, and has further emboldened my faith in God. I became involved with the Male Breast Cancer Coalition (MBCC) and it has been a tremendous source of emotional and education support along with a commitment of spreading awareness that men have breasts too! But I’m not the only one beating cancer. My wife is a lung cancer survivor of 12 years. Her path to recovery was far more difficult than mine. This family battles cancer. I’d say cancer should be afraid of us now!