Topeka man survives breast cancer, now focused on awareness

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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - Breast cancer is often associated with women, but many men suffer in silence as well.

Topekan Jeremy Bailey underwent a double mastectomy in April, for breast cancer.

"I knew guys could get it, but guys my age? 35, no way," Bailey said.

Patricia Washburn understands what Jeremy went through better than most, she lost her husband Marlyn in 2017 -- five months after he was diagnosed with breast cancer.

"My husband’s breast cancer had metastasized from the breast into the liver, into both lungs, his lymph node his bones, and his brain before we ever knew anything was going on," she said.

Patricia now travels the country in her late husband's car, decked out in male breast cancer awareness stickers.

"It has opened up so many people's eyes as we have traveled,” Patricia stated. “You know they'll see the car and they'll ask a question, they'll see my shirt and they'll ask about it and it gives me the opportunity to fill them in and give them the warning signs."

She does it to support people like Jeremy, who felt alone in his fight until he found Patricia and the Male Breast Cancer Coalition.

Jeremy says he found hope when he realized he wasn’t alone.

"Talking on the phone, and through Facebook all the time and then actually getting to meet some of them in person, it’s awesome,” Jeremy said.

Nearly 2700 men will be diagnosed with breast cancer in the U.S. this year, and 500 men will die from it. The average age of a man diagnosed with the cancer is 68, but Patricia knows it can happen younger.

"So it’s just really important to me that I travel around the country and talk to as many people as I can,” Patricia said.

Just like in women, breast cancer in men can spread to other areas of the body. Patricia believes regular mammograms for men would help them with early detection, too.

For warning signs of male breast cancer just click here.