Lottie is inspired by her dad to raise awareness that Men Get Breast Cancer Too

When my Dad was diagnosed, I had no idea that men could even get breast cancer.

Lottie with her dad Giles

26 year old Lottie Cooper from Overbury in Gloucestershire is passionate about raising awareness of breast cancer, particularly in men. Here’s her inspiring story.

“My father, Giles was diagnosed with breast cancer in summer 2015. This diagnosis was not a complete surprise to the family - my Dad’s own father and brother (my grandfather and great uncle) had both died because of breast cancer - but was still a shock.

Given that there are only about 350 men a year who get this diagnosis, the fact that three family members all got breast cancer was a unique occurrence.

In 2015, when Dad was diagnosed, I was 19 and I didn’t really have the knowledge or understanding of how rare this was and how potentially serious it was to our family.

Dad had a double mastectomy as a preventative measure to reduce the chance of the breast cancer returning. I remember Dad’s consultant saying that the operation was successful, but if a secondary occurred at any time in the future, it would be life-limiting.

We are, thankfully a very close family unit, but the worry that breast cancer is so prevalent in our family is a real worry to my brother and I.

With my Dad Giles, Mum Nicola and brother Freddie

My brother, Freddie is four years older than me and with all the previous cases being on the male side, it’s an immense concern to him. Not surprisingly, we are both classed as being at very high risk of developing breast cancer. The situation is also hugely concerning for our children and the generations beyond, as gene research in our family has so far failed to identify any specific mutations.

As a family we have a huge advantage over many people. The acute awareness that Dad had about the risk of cancer meant that he checked regularly and was able to identify the cancerous lump before it became a real problem. This awareness has been passed onto Freddie and I, and enables us to plan wisely for the future.

Soon after Dad’s diagnosis, he realised that there was very little awareness of male breast cancer and through a link with Maggie’s, a wonderful national charity offering emotional and physical support for those diagnosed with cancer, he was able to talk about his cancer with like-minded people in a calming and friendly environment.

The lack of awareness of male breast cancer soon became very evident to Dad and after his story was featured in a full page article in The Daily Telegraph, he was able to work with Breast Cancer Now to start a campaign of awareness which included appearances on GMTV and in numerous other national newspapers and radio stations. The word was staring to get out, but the perception was still that it was a women’s disease.

Thankfully in 2017, Walk The Walk realised that male breast cancer was not getting the attention it deserved. 80 men die each year, but men often present late with symptoms and as a result, statistically, the prognosis is often not as good as for women. This realisation led to the creation of Walk the Walk’s ‘Men Get Breast Cancer Too’ campaign which started with a small group of men meeting in London for a coffee, but the media coverage gained momentum and helped to catapult awareness into the public domain.

With my Dad on the beach as a child

With the support of Walk the Walk, Dad and a number of his male breast cancer friends were able to get the opportunity to go on stage at the start of The MoonWalk London in 2018 and over the last few years, the number of men joining the group has continued to grow. There have been numerous and frequent opportunities for media exposure up and down the country, to push the message that Men Get Breast Cancer Too!

I now feel reassured that I have the support I need, that my brother and I are aware of the potential risks and that as a family we can continue to promote the message - on Dad’s behalf - that male breast cancer exists and is something that should be taken seriously by all men.

Early detection and prevention is so simple! Men can easily check themselves by simply feeling over their breast tissue for the usual breast cancer symptoms. This only needs to be done once a month, is painless and can be done in the comfort of your own home. GP’s are very receptive to men with lumps and as my Dad knows, they will take it seriously!

I don’t know what the future holds for me. I’ve already been told that I have between a 60% and 80% cent change of been diagnosed with breast cancer myself. However, I won’t be able to have genetic testing until I’m 30. When my Dad was diagnosed, I had no idea that men could even get breast cancer. Now I know a lot more and I’m passionate about raising as much awareness as possible – male or female, young or old, we all need to be vigilant. Boys and Girls, start checking yourselves from your early 20’s and keep looking for the signs of breast cancer!”

Thank you for sharing your story Lottie and for raising so much awareness that Men Get Breast Cancer Too!

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