October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Everywhere you turn pink ribbons and merchandise remind people about the disease.
During this time, more people are paying attention to messages about hope, survival, early detection and finding a cure.
Campaigns such as "Think Pink," "Fight Like A Girl" and "Save the TaTas" have helped spread awareness and raise breast cancer funds. Inadvertently, the campaigns have also positioned breast cancer as a women’s health issue; giving men a false sense of security.
However, statistics from cancer.org shows that one in 1,000 men will be diagnosed with breast cancer.
Liberty County resident Albert Greene, Sr. is a one.
Raised in the Trade Hill community, Greene resides in Sunbury with his wife Harriett.
They have lived in the same home for 63 years. It is where they raised their 6 children and enjoy spending time with their 14 grandchildren and 19 great-grandchildren.
At one point, Greene’s family wasn’t sure he would live to see this day.
In 1953, Greene noticed a lump in his right breast after taking a shower. He ignored it at first but eventually went to see a doctor in Savannah when it didn’t go away.
"I went to my doctor and he told me don’t bother it if it doesn’t bother me," Greene explained.
At first there was no pain and the lump didn’t enlarge so he went on with life as usual. About 35 years later in 1986, the lump started enlarging and leaking fluid.
After work on a Friday afternoon, Greene was walking around with his shirt off when his neph-ew told him the lump looked cancerous so he needed to go to the doctor. He asked his wife to make an appointment for the following week.
When Greene went to the doctor, he was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 54. Doc-tors called his family to gather at the hospital to tell them the news. Due to the size and the rare cases of breast cancer in men, the doctor didn’t think his chances of survival would be high.
"All of my family was upset and crying, but I was calm," he said with a smile. "I believe in God and I had faith that I didn’t need to worry."
Greene immediately had surgery to remove the lump and stayed in the hospital for two weeks. One of his fondest memories in the hospital was his doctor telling him that he wished all his pa-tients were so calm and kept a good attitude.
After surgery, Greene had six weeks of chemotherapy. At the time he was a supervisor at Carson Products in Savannah so he would go in for treatments after work on Fridays.
"I would get so sick when they gave me that stuff to drink," he said. "Just to see them mix it up would make me vomit. I would come home after treatment and the only thing I could drink was a cold grape soda. I would stay in bed all weekend then go back to work on Monday. I usually started feeling normal again on Wednesday but it would be time to go right back on Friday."
Along with his faith, Greene said sticking to his normal routine and having his family around helped him cope with the cancer treatment. Many people let fear consume them but he was de-termined to stay positive.
At the end of his chemotherapy, Greene was given the good news that he was cancer-free. Since then he has regular doctor appointments and hasn’t had any other health concerns.
"I rarely even get a cold," Greene said. "Many people ask me why I stay so active, always in the streets on the go, at my age and how did I get through that tough time. I tell them I am blessed. I don’t have time to be depressed and sad about nothing."
Thirty years later, Greene still has the same attitude. He celebrated his second retirement earlier this year after working as a supervisor at Strength of Nature from 2005 to 2015. Greene spends most of his time riding his bicycle, working on electronics or appliances and transporting family members to doctor appointments. He enjoys vacationing with his family as often as he can.
Facts about breast cancer in men
Breast cancer in men is usually detected as a hard lump underneath the nipple and areola.
Men carry a higher mortality than women do, primarily because awareness among men is less and they are less likely to assume a lump is breast cancer, which can cause a delay in seeking treat-ment.
440 men are expected to die from breast cancer this year.
African Americans have the highest death rate from breast cancer of any racial/ethnic group in the United States.
Men should perform monthly breast self-checks and visit a healthcare provider for annual physi-cals for early detection.
To learn more about breast cancer events, awareness programs and local resources, visit http://www.komencoastalgeorgia.org.