Helping to raise awareness for male breast cancer is very important to this week’s inspiration, Ian Bentley. Ian knew that his family was at risk of developing breast cancer. His mum, grandma, aunt, and sister had all been diagnosed and battled breast cancer.
However, the men in his family didn’t realise the risks of male breast cancer until Ian’s brother was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 36, encouraging Ian to visit his GP for help and advice. Ian recalls the experience with his GP as shocking, as the GP didn’t offer much information about male breast cancer. He left his appointment scared and worried.
Luckily, Ian’s sister was involved with the Nightingale Centre and Ian started having scans, blood tests and even trying out a mammogram. In 2004, Ian asked for preventative surgery, explaining that it was the only option left for his peace of mind.
Now a grandfather, Ian still gets frustrated with the lack of information available about male breast cancer and the lack of awareness within both the medical profession and the general public. Now a very prominent supporter of Prevent Breast Cancer, Ian can’t stress enough the importance of spreading awareness of male breast cancer and talks to us today about his journey and the amazing work he does to help the cause.
How did you tell your male friends that you were having preventative surgery and how did they react?
“They were all just as shocked as we were that men got breast cancer but very supportive with my reasoning.“
What steps did you take in order to educate yourself on male preventative surgery?
“Went to see a GP, then looked on the internet, then a better GP, then the Nightingale Centre and Gareth Evans.”
How did you raise the subject with your children and explain the family’s ‘faulty’ gene?
“We were very honest with our kids and explained that we can’t find a faulty gene in our family, that’s why I had preventative surgery.”
Will they take the same approach you did, or a different one, when explaining to your grandchildren?
“The grandchildren are too young to explain it all, but hopefully medical science will give us more ammunition and choice, but yes we will be open with them.”
What can medical experts do to make men in your position feel more comfortable?
“Better training for staff to realise that breast cancer affects both men and women whether as patients or supporting partners. A better questionnaire that gives Mr as an option, not just Mrs, Miss or Ms and also a questionnaire that covers men as regards to hormone changes like puberty not just when did you start your period or did you breastfeed. This would help men to feel less awkward than they already do about cancer which is already widely regarded as a woman’s disease.”
What’s the main piece of advice you’d offer to men in your situation?
“Talk, ask questions, don’t be afraid to ask the questions because they seem daft e.g. can men get breast cancer? Can men be a carrier of a faulty gene?”
What’s been your biggest fundraising achievement?
“Helping to raise awareness about male breast cancer, seeing the centre being built, seeing a community pull together to support a friend and seeing our idea being used by other communities. Dressing doormen in tutus, getting the tutus off them was harder work! Seeing how much my 6-year-old grandson enjoyed helping with fundraising events, priceless.”
Have you set yourself a particular target?
“No it’s always been about raising awareness, the money is a bonus.”
What’s the best thing about seeing your family and friends get involved with fundraising?
“Seeing everyone working together, supporting each other and having a laugh at the same time.”
Ian recently starred in Prevent Breast Cancer’s latest video. Make sure you give it a look: