Peoria dad beats breast cancer

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By Jennifer Thomas By Jennifer Thomas

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Five years ago, Peoria dad Tony Blackmon was umpiring a local baseball game when he was struck in the chest by a couple of foul balls.

He had been wearing protective gear but remembers it being especially painful, and after several days neither the pain nor swelling subsided.

Blackmon went to his doctor who ran tests and within weeks delivered his diagnosis.

"Within weeks, they told me I was positive for breast cancer," Blackmon said.

What followed was a series of surgeries, including a mastectomy, and years of treatment and medication.

"You're on medication for five years, you're getting bone scans and mammograms just like a woman would get," Blackmon said.

Breast cancer is a disease that predominantly affects women, but it also impacts a small number of men.

An estimated 1 percent of a breast cancer patients are male, according to Dr. Ed Staren, a surgical oncologist and the CEO of Cancer Treatment Centers of America, where Blackmon underwent treatment.

"There's a disbelief that this is something that's unimportant, 'I can't have breast cancer because I'm a man,' on the other side of the coin, we clearly know that to be the case," Staren said.

He said often men are reluctant to get checked out when something seems wrong, and as a result hold off on getting checked out.

"One of the dangerous circumstances is breast cancer may present in a more advanced stage," Staren said.

Luckily, that was not the case for Blackmon, 54, who attempted to maintain a sense of normalcy during his treatment by keeping up with his favorite activities and hobbies.

Staren said breast cancer patients like Blackmon, who maintain a high quality of life during treatment, have been shown to have increased survival rates.

Staren is one of the authors of a new study in The Breast Journal which links quality of life to improved survival.

For more information on breast cancer and men, click here.