Rev Graham Sykes discovered a lump in his breast and booked a doctor’s appointment (From Hereford Times)
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Vital message to men over breast cancer support
8:00am Friday 29th June 2012 in Health
WHEN Rev Graham Sykes discovered a lump in his right breast on Christmas Day 2007, he was certain he knew what it was.
Graham, aged 52, of Bromyard, said he was lucky enough to know men can get breast cancer and quickly booked a doctor’s appointment.
Five years later he is in remission, and is the new trustee with The Haven in Hereford – one of the few breast cancer support centres in the UK and one that he believes made a horrible time easier.
Since opening in 2004, The Haven, in St Owen Street, has treated four men, including Graham.
Figures from Cancer Research UK show that in 2009, 371 men were diagnosed with breast cancer, compared with 48,417 women.
Graham, the vicar of Bromyard and Stoke Lacy, said: “I knew I was a rare being – a man with breast cancer.
“The hardest thing is the perception of the world that it is a woman’s disease, which is false – it is a human disease. You can feel isolated in many ways.
“I found it difficult to go to The Haven myself. I thought it would be a very girly world.
“But with encouragement I went inside and they were brilliant. They handled the fact I was a man – the material they supplied was appropriate to me as a man and to my faith.”
Dr Caroline Hoffman, the clinical and research director at The Haven, said: “It’s a terrible shock for men to be diagnosed with breast cancer as it’s commonly regarded as a woman’s disease.
“Men often ignore the signs, such as swelling or lumps in the chest area, as breast cancer is the last thing they think about.
“This means men often get diagnosed late and as a result might need more treatment.
“The Haven has always been here for both men and women and for any of their supporters.”
After going through a mastectomy, chemotherapy and radiotherapy, Graham is moving away from Herefordshire, where he has spent much of his life, to Oxford, where his wife, the Reverend Clare Sykes, will take his place in the church and he will work as The Haven’s trustee.
He said: “My faith and prayer helped me through and my wife and two children have been my motivator to live.
“To anyone who finds a lump or thinks they may have cancer - see your doctor. The earlier you catch it, the more likely there will be a positive outcome.”
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