John’s Story

Friday 21 July 2017 started out as an ordinary day for John. With plans to visit family with his wife Kaye, he jumped in the shower to freshen up. It was while he was washing that he found a tiny lump under his left breast.

John’s first thought was “men don’t get breast cancer.” However, after hours of driving with the seatbelt crossing his chest, the tiny lump John found in the morning had grown to the size of a golf ball. He quickly made an appointment to see his GP, and was referred for an ultrasound. After a rush of scans and biopsies, John received the news that would change his life “you have breast cancer.”

“I was petrified. But I was also relieved to put a name to it and understand how to move forward.”

Within 12 days of discovering the lump, John had a left-breast mastectomy. Luckily, the cancer had not spread to his lymph nodes and doctors were able to remove it all. He started on chemotherapy a month later.

Although John has the support of his beautiful wife Kaye, he felt he needed to talk to someone about what he was going through. A breast care nurse put him in touch with Breast Cancer Care WA counsellor Shelley, who began visiting John and Kaye weekly at their home in Mandurah.

It is so good to speak to someone who understands what you are going through. We can sit and have a cup of coffee, and just have a good chat about what is going on.

John, already retired, was using his woodworking skills to build toys and furniture for a small group of dedicated customers. He also spent his time creating architectural drawings. Unfortunately, due to his treatment, he has had to slow down and stop working on many of his projects.

Everyone has been very understanding; some people have even said they’ll wait as long as needed for me to be well enough to work on their projects.

With only 144 men estimated to have been diagnosed with breast cancer around Australia in 2017, John is a rarity. Breast Cancer Care WA provides services for both women and men, at all stages of their breast cancer experience. John is hopeful that by telling his story he can highlight the importance of everyone regularly checking their breasts, regardless of their gender.

It is not just women who can get breast cancer. By making a caring donation you can help men like John at or by phoning together we can ensure people like John get the vital care and support they need, when they need it most. Please give generously.