FENLAND: Web exclusive- interview with the lorry driver diagnosed last year with breast cancer

SPECIAL REPORT by MAGGIE GIBSON A ROUTINE medical for his job as a lorry driver probably saved the life of Lance Bryant. He is one of just 290 men in Britain who were diagnosed with breast cancer last year. While the prognosis for the 50-year-old single d


A ROUTINE medical for his job as a lorry driver probably saved the life of Lance Bryant. He is one of just 290 men in Britain who were diagnosed with breast cancer last year.

While the prognosis for the 50-year-old single dad is good and he is thankful the disease was caught in the early stages, he wants other men to be aware that it is not just women who can be affected by the disease.

Nine months later he is thinking of setting up his own business and is to take part in a celebrity fashion show at one of London's top hotels to raise money and awareness for cancer care.

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Speaking from the Woodlands Centre at Hinchingbrooke Hospital, Huntingdon, where he first received the shattering diagnosis, he said: "If I can save the life of just one man by talking about this then it will be worthwhile."

Following his diagnosis in July he has had surgery to remove his left breast, and has undergone radiotherapy and drug treatment. He also continues to receive vital support and counselling.

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He said: "I was really lucky. I had to go for my medical to renew my licence and I flew through it. When I was getting ready to leave the doctor asked if I had any issues I wanted to mention. I told him that my left nipple had been inverted for about six or seven months.

"He referred me to hospital and I came and had a biopsy and a mammogram. When I got the results they told me there was a two centimetre lump and the biopsy had shown it was cancer. They also gave me a bone and a chest scan."

Mr Bryant, of St Paul's Drive, Chatteris, had not noticed any other signs of the disease and had not been able to feel the lump himself. The former rugby player, who also enjoyed athletics and weight training, had always kept fit.

He said: "When I was told it was cancer the first thing I felt was shock and then fear. I have a daughter who will be four next month and I am a single dad. I wondered what I was going to do and what the future would hold."

Mr Bryant had his operation to remove his breast at Hinchingbrooke on August 6 and the surgeon also took away some of the lymph nodes. Luckily it was found that the cancer had not spread.

The surgery was followed up with a course of radiotherapy at Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge. Mr Bryant will take the drug tamoxifen for the next five years which has left him with side effects that are sometimes difficult to cope with while caring for his lively three-year-old daughter Charley.

He said: "It has been quite difficult and I know I have been quick tempered sometimes but she has been my support and she keeps me occupied. I still worry about the future but the care and support I have had has been fantastic."

Macmillan Cancer Care nurse Lorraine Walker has been supporting Mr Bryant since his diagnosis and says it is the first case of male primary breast cancer she has dealt with since joining the team at The Woodlands Centre.

She said: "It is very rare in men and it is not fully known what causes it. In a year there are 290 men diagnosed with it and 41,000 women. Because it is so rare many men are ignorant of the symptoms and in any case usually put off seeing their GP.

"This is why Lance wants to highlight that it can happen to men. He was very lucky that it was caught early. It has been very important to support him and encourage him to contact Breast Cancer Care. When you are diagnosed with breast cancer you need a lot of support and that is the same if you are a man or a woman."

Mrs Walker says it is important that men go along and see their GP if they notice changes in their breasts.

Mr Bryant says the treatment and support from staff at Hinchingbrooke and Addenbrooke's has been amazing. He said: "I don't have any moans or groans about anything. They have been fantastic to me and Charley."

Mr Bryant is planning to start his own gardening business to support himself and Charley. He said: "I won't be able to do anything too strenuous but I will cut lawns and do edging, things like that."

As for the fashion show in October, Mr Bryant has already been to London to meet his fellow models which include just one other man. He said: "There were 20 women who have all had breast cancer and I didn't feel isolated at all. They all made me feel very welcome."

CONTACT: Mr Bryant has received information and emotional support from Breast Cancer Care. If you have been diagnosed contact Breast Cancer Care on 0808 800 6000 and join the website to link up with thousands of others around the UK at www.breastcancercare.org.uk.

Lance is also happy for anyone concerned about any of the issues raised by breast cancer to contact him at lancebryant@hotmail.com.

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