Breast cancer survivor wants other men to know they’re not exempt just because of their gender

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. We usually think about women wearing pink and spotlighting the illness, but one local man says he now has a reason to join the fight too.

"I told my doctor at the time I said I got this bump. I don't know what this is. And he felt it and he said ‘oh, I don't like that,’" Eric Passmore said.

From that point on, Eric's life was forever changed. Days later he heard four startling words – "You have breast cancer."

"And he sent me for a mammogram. Now, when he said ‘mammogram’ my first words were ‘You know I'm a guy right?’" Eric said.

Now, he knows his gender didn't exempt him from the disease. A liver transplant recipient 18 years ago, Eric was ready to take on his next battle. He came out victorious, but now he wants to share his story with other men about knowing their body.

"Especially guys will tell me you can't have breast cancer, you're a man. I tell them I have a scar that says otherwise," Eric said.

Associate Director of Clinical Research at IU Simon Cancer Center, Dr. Kathy Miller, says there are about 2,000 men in the United States diagnosed with breast cancer each year. It's an embarrassing subject for men. Although men don't need to get regular mammograms, she wants them to be aware.

"But if they notice a lump behind the nipple or in the region of the breast that's not normal. And it's just as not normal in men as it is in women. They need to talk to their doctors about it and get it checked out," Dr. Miller said.

Eric had a mastectomy and went through 12 weeks of chemo, all to come out on the other side and save another life.

"I'm here for a reason,” said Eric. “I don't really know what that reason is yet but maybe this is part of it."

Eric will walk in the Stars of Pink Fashion Show. The Pink Ribbon Connection hosts the show, featuring breast cancer survivors and medical professionals every year. It's their biggest fundraiser in order to provide free wigs, bras, scarves and prosthetics to survivors. To learn more about the show click here.