I was a SURVIVOR
I’m a THRIVER
I am Steve Pollack. In 2007 during a pre-op physical for routine surgery a chest x-ray indicated something suspicious. Further testing showed that I had male breast cancer. I was shocked and devastated.
I had a mastectomy and have been cancer free for 12 years.
Cancer has changed my life–Cancer does that. I began to volunteer to help other cancer patients, as others have helped me. I now volunteer and work with cancer patients at the James Comprehensive Cancer Center in Columbus, Ohio. My volunteer days are the best days of my week.
I have created this site to tell my story and offer HOPE to cancer patients, their caregivers, relatives, and friends. I am not a doctor and do not give or offer any medical advice.
From Surviving To Thriving
My 12 year journey through the world of male “Breast Cancer”.
ALL MEDICAL QUESTIONS SHOULD BE REFERRED TO YOUR PHYSICIAN. My name is Steve Pollack and I am on my 12th year as a survivor of breast cancer. It’s good to survive–It’s better to THRIVE! Breast Cancer is considered to be mainly a disease for women. But men also get this terrible disease. It effects us all. As men and women we may travel separate paths. But we share the same journey. I would like to take a few moments to share my journey and some of the things I have learned along the way.
In 2019 it is estimated that there will be approximately 250,000 new cases of female breast cancer and 3000 cases of male breast cancer. Over 4500 women and over 500 men will die of breast cancer. Men typically do not consider breast cancer as our cancer and rarely perform breast exams. My cancer was discovered during a pre-op physical for routine surgery. A shadow showed up on an x-ray. This led to a CT scan and a pet scan. They thought maybe I had had lung cancer. But the PET scan showed no lung cancer and indicated something suspicious on my breast–possible breast cancer. A biopsy was recommended. That was not much fun. At this point that I entered the woman’s world of breast cancer. To the men who are reading this, when your spouse or significant other comes home and says she’s had a mammogram – You take her out to dinner!!
A few days later, on a Saturday I got the phone call from my surgeon. He said “Steve your tests are back and I’m sorry to tell you that you have breast cancer — Invasive Ductal Carcinoma. I was shocked! I was devastated! Up until that point I never thought that I would have breast cancer. Men don’t even think of breast cancer. I can’t describe the feeling.
I walk with G-D and I remember saying, G-d I am going to need your help! What are we going to do? I knew I had to start doing something. I have been a donor to the James Cancer Hospital for many years to help people who get cancer. And now it was me. I knew it was important to be proactive. I knew that I was going to take the high road to survival. SURVIVAL starts from the day of diagnosis. That’s so important for all of us to remember.
Monday I spoke to my surgeon. He said, “You come in tomorrow and we’ll fix you up!” It was something positive!
December 3rd, surgery. It was cold and snowy and dark. Surgery was scheduled for 6:30 am. I was first up for the day. I wish I could have had some coffee. I was nervous. When I saw my surgeon he had his white coat on. I thought he looked like a General. Again I felt G-D’s presence with me. I turned it over to G-d and my surgeon. I let it go and tried to relax.
I remember waking up in recovery. My breast was gone. I was heavily bandaged. I had a drain and even with the pain meds I was sore. I was pretty upset and I can tell you that not only do real men wear pink–but real men cry!!
The next day I went home and began to heal. I was treated well during my stay at the James Cancer Hospital. From my surgeon who was like a machine, to the staff and nurses who are Angels. Nurses who are there to take care of you when nothing is going right and you may be at your lowest point. It was a very difficult time for me.
I began the healing process. It was long for me. I had to wear a drain for a month and measure the fluid output for a month. I had the help of many people–friends and relatives, many people at the James. I knew I was going to get better. I had cancer but I was not going to let cancer have me. I have had additional surgery since, including a subcutaneous mastectomy. It was not malignant.
I have become an advocate for cancer awareness and cancer prevention. Not just male Breast Cancer, but all cancers. All cancers are ugly. During our lives one-half of all men and one-third of all women will get some form of cancer. Cancer is not about someone else. Cancer is about you. Cancer is about me. Cancer is about your relatives and friends. Cancer is about all of us.
In January 2010 I knew it was time to help others as others had helped me. I realized that for me cancer carries a responsibility–the responsibility to fight back and the obligation to give back. I started working one day a week at the James radiation clinic, one day a week at the Breast Center. I always worked directly with cancer patients. I worked with radiation patients. My volunteer days are the best days of my week. A conversation with a patient can give them HOPE and help them heal. I feel that volunteering to help others is one of the highest calling. As you help others you help yourself. Sometimes the most powerful medicine we have to give is the medicine of our friendship.
July 2014 the possibility of recurrence of cancer reared its ugly head. Based on a CAT scan, a PET scan and some other tests there was a good possibility that cancer had returned. It is a survivor’s greatest fear–one that is always in our mind. I spent a week in the James Cancer Hospital. I had many tests with teams of doctors. When a PET scan showed signs of malignancy, I had thoracic surgery. And finally two weeks after surgery, the biopsy proved to be negative for cancer. What a relief that was.
I feel the most important lesson for me was not to get my exercise by jumping to conclusions. My oncologist said to me as I was going through this waiting period to find out if I had more cancer, “Steve, I’ve been your doctor for over 6 years. We’ll find out what it is and then we’ll deal with it.” I began to calm down. I had an additional PET scan in October. There was no additional cancer. Cancer has changed my life. Cancer does that. I have always lived a good life. I call it a life in living color. Since Cancer I am now brought to you in High Definition. Every day is a special day because I am alive. You are a part of that process. I have learned so much about the beauty of life through the ugliness of cancer.
Steve Pollack Featured in The James Cancer Hospital Ambassadors Event
As Survivors and Thrivers we have traveled different paths. But we share the same journey.
Cancer is about:
In closing I would like to read a few lines from a play that I was in with other cancer thrivers and OSU theater students. We wrote our parts and practiced with OSU theater instructors.
Kill a Friendship
Invade a Soul
Cannot conquer the spirit
We are made of better things.
Please fill out this form and we will get in touch with you shortly.