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Research Is the Reason I Can Change the Stigma

Aubrey Glencamp shares how research gave him more time with his family—and inspired him to advocate for others

Around Valentine’s Day in 2016, Aubrey Glencamp, then 33, was lying in bed when his wife, Stephanie, noticed a lump on his left-hand side. A few months later, he got a call from his doctor that he had stage II breast cancer.

“It was very weird being a guy sitting in a waiting room,” Aubrey said. “I didn't know any men personally who had been impacted by breast cancer.”

While preparing for his treatment plan––which involved surgery and chemotherapy––his doctors advised him to undergo genetic testing (which turned out not to reveal any inherited gene mutations) and to see a fertility specialist if he and his wife wanted to have kids.

Between doctors visits, preparing for treatment, working, and figuring out everything else that had changed in his life, Aubrey and his wife didn’t have the chance to visit a fertility clinic. So, when in May—just days before his surgery—his wife surprised him with the news that she was pregnant, he was ecstatic. 

“I'd always wanted a child, and for it to happen right then and there, with everything that was going on, was definitely a miracle and a blessing,” he said. “It gave me even more fight to get through my treatment before my daughter got here.”

About a month and a half after surgery, Aubrey started chemotherapy with Herceptin and Perjeta, for his HER2-positive cancer. His treatment was not without its challenges: Because Aubrey had had open-heart surgery at 19, radiation was off the table given the location of his defibrillator. Five rounds into chemotherapy/Herceptin/Perjeta, he had to stop the treatment because the drugs were impacting his heart.

He rang the chemo bell in December, and his daughter, Chloe, was born in January. 

Today, Aubrey takes hormone therapy to prevent recurrence and stays mindful of his health, so he is always there for his wife and daughter. He also advocates for other men like him.

After his diagnosis, Aubrey noticed a lack of male representation while researching the disease. He didn’t see many people who looked like him sharing their breast cancer journeys. When he got a mammogram, he had no place to change into his robe.

Aubrey joined the Male Breast Cancer Coalition and hopes to raise awareness around male breast cancer and encourage men to check their breasts and take seriously any changes they may notice.

“I think supporting breast cancer research and changing the narrative and stigma around the disease, especially for men, is huge,” he said. “If I can make it through and share my experiences, maybe that will give someone else a bit of hope, too.”

Read more stories from BCRF’s Research Is the Reason storytelling initiative here.

 

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