BAKERSFIELD, CA. — With October, comes Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Bright pink ribbons and female empowerment fill the community.
But behind the feminine reminders of the deadly disease, there's an unlikely group also affected: men.
58-year-old Rob Lieske is a local breast cancer survivor.
"That was a hard thing for me to even say, the word breast. You know, I am a guy. I didn't even want to tell people. I would just say chest cancer," said Lieske.
The husband and father of two got the shocking diagnosis in February following a mammogram. But Lieske is among the lucky ones, it was stage two breast cancer -- caught early.
Lieske had a double mastectomy after learning he had the BRCA gene mutation that increases the risk for breast cancer.
Now finished with chemotherapy, Lieske said he is cancer free.
His new battle, bringing awareness to a disease forgotten about among men.
"I was in construction site recently and they asked me, 'what kind of cancer do you have?' and I said male breast cancer and they were taken aback, these big burly guys," said Lieske.
Medical Oncologist, Richardo Salas, said 1 in 800 men will be diagnosed with breast cancer.
Salas said men should examine themselves regularly.
Symptoms of breast cancer include:
- A lump or swelling
- Discharge from the nipple
- Nipple retraction
- Redness or scaling of the nipple or breast skin
However, Salas said if you have the BRCA mutation or have a history of breast cancer in the family, you should take more precautions.
Adventist Health is holding a free breast cancer screening on October 24th at AIS Cancer Center in Central Bakersfield.