Male Breast Cancer Survivor Overcomes Obstacles

photo of Aubrey Glencamp during a mud run

Aubrey Glencamp, 34, says there are not a lot of stories out there about men who have breast cancer. That’s one reason he wants to share his. “I’ve always been a positive person,” said Glencamp. “You learn to take one day at a time and have no regrets. Do the things you want to do while you can because life is short.”

What Glencamp wants to do is get back to mud running, a type of event that features a muddy, boot-camp style obstacle race. He does it for fun and to lose weight and stay fit. “I don’t want my diagnosis to stop me from living,” he said. “Mud racing is all about overcoming obstacles. It’s a real life example of what I know I will have to overcome over the next months and years.”

Glencamp also wants to start a family with Stephanie, his wife of 10 years. It was Stephanie who first found a lump on Glencamp’s side, under his left arm. He went to the doctor to get it checked out.

Breast cancer in men

Glencamp is an unlikely candidate for breast cancer. Only about 2,600 new cases of breast cancer are diagnosed in men each year. It’s about 100 times less common in men than in women. And men who do get breast cancer are an average age of 68 when diagnosed.

So Glencamp’s doctor was not especially concerned about the lump, but just to be sure he referred Glencamp for an ultrasound and mammogram at a breast cancer center.

“The women went to a room to get changed, and I just sat in the lobby until my appointment,” said Glencamp. “It was scary not knowing what was going on. The mammogram was tough for me to maneuver and get into the right position.”

Glencamp was scheduled to come back for a biopsy, and a few days later he received a phone call telling him he had cancer. “I was in shock. It was a lot to take in,” he said. “Stephanie took it pretty hard. So did my parents and my whole family and friends.”

He met with an oncologist and a breast surgeon who told him more about his cancer. It was stage IIA and had spread to one of his lymph nodes. It was HER2 positive, meaning the cancer cells have too much of a protein that causes them to grow quickly. It was also hormone-receptor positive, which was also causing the cancer to grow. Testing also showed the cancer did not seem to be due to an inherited gene mutation – doctors didn’t know where it came from.

‘Treat me as normally as possible’

Glencamp and his doctor decided he would have a bilateral mastectomy – the removal of both breasts. He says he did it out of fear the cancer would return, and because he wanted his body to be symmetrical. He would also need 6 rounds of chemotherapy followed by a year of Herceptin (trastuzumab) and 5 years of tamoxifen.

Between his diagnosis and his surgery, Glencamp ran in 5 mud races. His mother watched him in a race for the first time, and his stepfather finally made good on his promise to join him in one. Mostly, Glencamp says, his family helped him out by treating him as normally as possible, which is what he asked them to do.

The surgery went well, and Glencamp is now about halfway through his chemo treatments. He’s experienced some side effects including nausea, hair loss, stomach problems, sore throat, fatigue, and chemo brain – a thinking problem that sometimes makes it hard to concentrate. He says it helps that friends and family visit with him during the chemo infusions, and the side effects are easier to take now that he knows what to expect.

“You get used to the symptoms and can predict how you’re going to feel on what day. That helps me cope,” he said. “On the 4th day after chemo I am the most fatigued. On the 10th day I’m sore from meds that stimulate my white blood cells. So I know not to plan anything that day.”

A new perspective on life

Because cancer treatment can interfere with the ability to have children, Glencamp’s surgeon recommended he first go to a fertility clinic. But in the whirlwind of medical appointments things began to move very quickly, and he was unable to find the time to go.

Then 2 days before surgery, Stephanie found out she was pregnant. The baby is due on January 16. It’s a girl. “It was a blessing to find out she was pregnant. Being a father was something I wanted for a long time. It was great timing,” said Glencamp. “I am looking forward to having a Daddy’s girl.”

“It gives me a different perspective about life,” he said. “I know people who have passed away from cancer, so having it – you always know there is a possibility of it coming back. You never want to think about it. Knowing we have a child on the way is something to look forward to.”

“The best thing to do is take one day at a time, be positive, pick your head up when you are down and remember what may seem like the most devastating news in your life, can always open doors to a whole new world of possibilities.”

"The best thing to do is take one day at a time, be positive, pick your head up when you are down and remember what may seem like the most devastating news in your life, can always open doors to a whole new world of possibilities."

Aubrey Glencamp

The American Cancer Society medical and editorial content team
Our team is made up of doctors and master’s-prepared nurses with deep knowledge of cancer care as well as journalists, editors, and translators with extensive experience in medical writing.

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