Buddy Check 3: Why men should practice prevention too

Published: Feb. 3, 2020 at 4:13 PM CST
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It's the third of the month, time to check in with your buddies to make sure they're keeping up with self exams and other routine screenings for breast cancer.

This is our Buddy Check 3 program. While more women are getting the message to practice prevention, it might surprise you to know men need to be more aware, because they can get breast cancer too.

Derrick Sutherlin's happy place is at home with his dogs and his wife, Cory.

They're family. But three years ago, Sutherlin suddenly found himself in a whole different kind of family.

"it's a family you don't want to be a part of, but once you are, they embrace you," said Sutherlin.

It was a family of all women battling breast cancer. In 2017, Derrick became one of the .5% of men who get the disease. Like most men he'd never even considered the possibility.

"I was living life working out, going to the gym, running," said Sutherlin. "I had a lump for a month or two, I didn't say anything or know to think anything of it."

Sutherlin said he thought it would just go away.

"Then one day I hit it on something and it hurt," said Sutherlin.

That's when Sutherlin showed his wife what he thought was just an overgrowth of breast tissue. Neither of them worried even then, but later Cory mentioned it to a co-worker who had had breast cancer, and that co-worker may helped saved Sutherlin life.

Sutherlin said the co-worker said he needed to go get checked out immediately.

"She (his wife) said you don't play around with that," said Sutherlin.

And so Sutherlin's journey began, similar to what doctors have seen in men with breast cancer.

"Usually it's a painless mass under the nipple, tends to be on the left more than the right, and because of less breast tissue, men usually feel a lump sooner than a woman does, the challenge is educating them to get it checked." said Dr. Robert Ellis. "We have these male archetypes, where men aren't suppose to get that, but they do and we can do a lot of good for that."

Sutherlin navigated through surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation...just like his fellow female survivors. It's been a journey the couple says has changed them, that they don't sweat the small stuff anymore.

And Sutherlin has a new mission to spread the word to help other men help themselves.

"Be your own advocate, make sure you check yourself, don't self diagnose, get it checked," said Sutherlin.

You can sign up to be part of the Buddy Check 3 program, just click on this link. Click