‘Men have breast too’ is the slogan on Michael Singer’s T-shirts, which are adorned with pink and blue ribbons.
The male breast cancer survivor from Throggs Neck, who at first was embarrassed by his diagnosis, now has turned to activism to alert the public that breast cancer affects men as well as woman.
Speaking about the time following his diagnosis in 2010, Singer, now a part of the Male Breast Cancer Coalition and an outspoken activist, said that shortly after he received his diagnosis he was telling people that he had ‘chest cancer.’
“I was very embarrassed to tell people that I had breast cancer,” said Singer. “To me there was still a stigma…I was raised to believe that it was a disease that affected only women; on the Internet in 2010, when I was diagnosed, there was no information.”
Singer had to have a full mastectomy of his left breast.
After he saw two male breast cancer survivors on The Katie Couric Show and lost a sister to breast cancer, he decided to become an advocate.
“This changed my life as I was finally able to connect with other men with breast cancer,” stated Singer, adding that there was a young survivor named Brett Miller, who founded the Brett Miller 1T Foundation that promotes breast cancer awareness at schools across the country, on the show.
“I realized that I have got to start talking about it to make men realize that they can have breast cancer too,” he said.
He said that according to 2016 estimates by the American Cancer Society in the United States, every year about 2,600 male breast cancer cases are diagnosed and over 440 people die because of late diagnosis.
Singer has chosen to speak to classes at Lehman High School, his alma mater, he said, and shared his story online at maleb
Other men, too, are more openly sharing their stories.
“Breast cancer does not discriminate.” he said, adding “Basically, we are trying to get them to put a splash of blue in a sea of pink.”
According to an ACS estimate in 2016, the lifetime risk of a man getting breast cancer in his lifetime is about 1 in 1,000.
For Singer, the advocacy is personal, he said, and he is calling for all 50 states to do what New York State has done in 2015 and again this year. The state has recognized the third week of October as “Male Breast Cancer Awareness Week.”
On Friday, October 14 Assemblyman Michael Benedetto, who sponsored the legislation, will present Singer with a NYS Assembly resolution honoring the awareness week.
Singer, along with his wife Patty, who he said helped him through his recovery, continues his work with an ACS campaign Real Men Wear Pink of the Bronx and their Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk, as well as with a Ford Motor Company initiative: Warriors in Pink, he said.