Buddy Check 6: Man opens up about breast cancer diagnosis

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RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) -- Rudi Jackson was taking a shower when he says he felt a lump under his right nipple last year.

“It was the size of a pea,” said Jackson. “I waited a couple of weeks and it was still there, so I decided to go to the doctor.”

Jackson would learn it was breast cancer.

He said he was surprised to be diagnosed with the disease because he has no family history, but knew men could get breast cancer.

“It can happen and I knew it could happen,” said Jackson.

But the cases of male breast cancer are very rare. For every 100 women, one man is diagnosed with the disease.

Jackson’s doctor performed a needle biopsy and the test results came back benign. But Jackson says they decided to have the lump removed anyway.

“After they removed the lump and tested it, that’s when they determined there was cancer,” said Jackson. “I was really surprised to get the diagnosis, but I knew men could get breast cancer.”

Jackson had a full mastectomy on his right side. His doctor said that was all the treatment he needed.

“Early detection is very important,” said Jackson. “It saved me from a lot of treatment.  Because I caught it so early, I didn’t have the radiation and chemo that some people have to go through.”

Jackson said he was not embarrassed to tell his family and friends about his diagnosis. He said his female relatives and friends were very supportive, as well as his male friends.

“My male friends were very supportive,” said Jackson. “In their own way, they would call to check on me to see how I was doing.”

“Of course I shared my experiences with them to let them know to monitor yourself,” said Jackson. “The diagnosis is what it is. “I’m thinking about my options for treatment, how do I survive? I had no embarrassment.”

Jackson said he told them to check themselves regularly like he does.

“I shared my experience with them to let them know to monitor themselves,” said Jackson. “If you see anything out of the ordinary like a lump, an inverted nipple, or dimpling of your breast, go to your doctor.”

Jackson says it’s important to for him to share his message with other people. And he’s done that with groups like the Sisters Network Central Virginia chapter, a national survivorship organization for African-American breast cancer survivors.

“My message to men is to check yourself,” said Jackson.  “Of course it can happen to men and I’m a living example of it.”

Once Jackson completed his treatment, he had one nagging question: did he carry the breast cancer gene? He underwent genetic testing and says the test results came back negative for the gene mutation.  He says he wanted to know so he could inform his female relatives who could be properly monitored for the disease.

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