MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — When you think of breast cancer survivors, you don’t picture someone like 45-year-old Scott Kelly, the father of an eleven-year-old boy. Kelly is a Mobile native who currently lives in Birmingham where he works as an attorney. While in New York on business three years ago, he felt something odd on the left side of his chest after taking a shower.
“It felt like a little piece of gravel or a pebble,” said Kelly. He confided in a childhood friend who happens to be an oncologist. “Our big joke was..you should get it checked out, but the chances of male breast cancer are very small and you’re just not that special, but get it checked out,” said Kelly.
He quickly followed up and that led to a shocking diagnosis.
“Cancer in of itself would throw somebody for a loop I believe. But the breast cancer definitely as a 42-year-old guy .. don’t think that’s something that you’re going to come across,” said Kelly.
Kelly lives a healthy, active lifestyle. He participated in a 15K run the weekend before undergoing a mastectomy. He was quick to go to the doctor and seek treatment, but many men would not be so eager according to Infirmary Cancer Care Oncologist, Dr. Jose Galeas.
“If a man detects something in their body, he’s less likely to go to a doctor than for example a woman who is more aware of what the consequences might be. This is more likely a society cultural kind of thing,” said Galeas. He also says there needs to be more awareness about breast cancer in men.
“There’s a lot of men..they don’t think they can get breast cancer. We all have breast tissue, so there’s always a chance for it,” said Galeas.
That risk in men is why Kelly is willing to bare his chest and share his very personal journey. He’s undergone reconstructive surgery, chemotherapy, and like many female breast cancer survivors…he takes the daily medication Tamoxifen which has unpleasant side effects.
However, Kelly caught his cancer early and is looking ahead to a long future with his son, Hearne.
“I am as healthy as I think I can ask to be at this point. It’s always a question, but in my mind exactly..is it going to come back? How is it going to come back? So, I kind of take most of my days and try to be appreciative for them and grateful for them. Especially the days that I get to spend with him because he’s the most important thing to me,” said Kelly.
Breast cancer runs in Kelly’s family. All of the cases involved women, but family history is a risk factor for breast cancer in men. Dr. Galeas says African American men are also at a higher risk. Age is also a factor. Risk increases as men and women get older.
You’re invited participate in the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk in Mobile’s Bienville Square October 26th at 8 a.m. The walk raises money and awareness for The American Cancer Society for research and support programs.