My name is Victor. I am living with Stage Four Breast Cancer. My journey began in April of 2016. After seeing photos of myself online days after my 33rd birthday celebration, I decided I needed to lose weight. I had no idea what that weight loss journey was going to reveal. I joined a Bootcamp. Within four weeks of working out daily and eating healthy, I dropped close to 30 pounds. My life then came to a screeching halt. In May, my Grandfather passed away from a heart attack-a week before his 90th Birthday! I was devastated. My life began to spiral. I was able to refocus all my grief into working out even harder. I made some huge life changes. Within months I decided to move back home with my mom.
I continued my fitness journey. By that October I lost close to 100 pounds. A week before Halloween of that year while showering, I felt a lump in my left breast. I remembered people at the camp would comment on finding fatty tissue build up after losing lots of weight. A week later while shaving, I noticed a divot in the same spot and immediately knew something was wrong. I grabbed my phone and started looking up what it could be. I remember like it was yesterday- typing into the Google search bar “I’m a male who lost 1oo pounds and have fatty lumps in my left breast….” within seconds I found, “Signs of Male Breast Cancer….”
I did not want to believe my eyes. I fought the idea that this could not be happening to me. I made the hardest phone call I would ever make when I called to book my doctor’s appointment. It was all a blur. Within a few days I was scheduled for a mammogram and a biopsy. The results came back positive. I had Breast Cancer. I was told I was the third male diagnosed in that hospital that year, there were eight males in their network in all Southern California, and I was youngest at the age of 33. I was set up with the top surgeon and oncology team the hospital had to offer. I remember being told that it did not look like my lymph nodes had been attacked. I opted for a double mastectomy. My surgery was set for the beginning of 2017 because I wanted to wait till after the holidays. The day after my surgery, my surgeon came to visit me and gave me some hard news. I had four dead lymph nodes and they had to remove fourteen. I would have to go through chemotherapy and radiation treatments.
I was so blessed to have an amazing mother who was with me the entire time. Family and friends made sure I was taken care of. Everything and anything I needed, I had. The chemotherapy was the hardest part for me. I remember being told that if I lost my hair, it would not be so bad because I was a male…but it was! I loved my thick black hair. I’m a hairdresser and know how important hair is for people!
A week after my first treatment I ended up in the ER. My white blood cells could not take it. I was hospitalized for a week. Every day I would wake up and feel my head to see if my hair was falling out, and every day that it was not I would pray I was one of the lucky ones that didn’t lose it. One day I woke up and my head was itching. I looked down, and there it was, huge piles of black hair. I think that was the hardest part for me. Weeks turned into months and the chemo took its toll. It slowed me down but before I knew it, I was done. It was followed by weeks of daily radiation, which burnt my skin and caused a permanent scar. During all of that I wanted nothing more than to keep my life as normal as possible. I worked when I could and lived my life as best as I could. Aside from my amazing Mother and Family my friends were literal angels. They kept me active, going to movies, concerts at The Hollywood Bowl and dinners at our favorite restaurants. My goal was to not let this define me! My strength came from knowing that I had a lot of life to live. I remember people commenting on how good I looked and strong I was. By the end of 2017 I was done with all my treatments and could not be happier!
2018 seemed like it was going to be my year. I had so many plans to refocus my life. I had been working with an amazing therapist and was excited to start over. Life has a way of changing your plans though. My scar from radiation started to develop these little bumps. Within a month the bumps were all over my chest. I asked my oncologist to check them out and he referred me to a dermatologist. He said that could be a side effect from the radiation. Almost two years later to the date, I was told the cancer came back…. It came back in the skin and had mutated. My cancer was pushed up to stage four! There is not a cure, and I would be living with this for the rest of my life. I did not think I would ever have that fear of death the way I did in November of 2016, but here I was. I was just told that my cancer was at the last stage. This time there was no way of getting rid of it. I was referred to another Oncologist. I call her my Angel! She took the scariest moment of my life and gave me hope. She still gives me hope! She is the top in her field and because of her, I know I am going to live for a very long time. She told me that Stage Four did not by any means mean it was a death sentence. I still cry as I am now writing this, when I think of that moment, she gave me hope!
I live my life knowing every day that God has a plan. I know that there is a reason why I am going through this. I try to be as optimistic as possible and choose happiness! I also allow myself to feel any emotion that comes my way. Choosing to go to therapy was the best decision I have ever made. It allowed me to figure out all my feelings and how to deal with my stress and anxiety. I now choose to only do things that brings me joy. Whether it is going to Disneyland over 100 times in a year, or going to as many concerts and travels whenever I can.
I choose happiness because I am alive! I have love and you never know where life’s going to take you! Remember that being diagnosed is scary, but that does not mean that it must define your destiny! That is up to you! LIVE YOUR BEST LIFE!
I want to end with thanking the one person in my life who is my hero! My mother, she was there for me every step of the way, the good and the bad. Those who go through this journey with you, don’t get the credit they deserve! I love you to the moon and back Mom!
(Disclaimer: This webpage may contain general information relating to various medical conditions and their treatment. Such information is provided for informational purposes only and is not meant to be a substitute for the advice provided by a doctor or other qualified health professional. Patients should not use the information contained herein for diagnosing a health or fitness problem or disease. Patients should always consult with a doctor or other health care professional for medical advice or information about diagnosis or treatment.)