“It’s the last thing a man is going to think of,” said Don Williams, a survivor of breast cancer.
A retired crane operator at the Timken Co., Williams underwent a mastectomy in 2013 after being diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer.
Two years earlier, he’d found a small lump on his chest and had it checked by a physician who gave him a mammogram and diagnosed him as cancer-free. As for removing the lump, “She said if it’s not bothering you, don’t worry about it,” Williams recalled. “I should’ve had it removed.”
Life went on. “I was a runner, and I kept running,” Williams, 72, said. “I was feeling good. I didn’t feel like I used to, but I was getting older.”
Two years later, Williams “ran into a door jamb and the nipple came off. Cancer had eaten through,” he said.
A biopsy was done, and 13 of 14 lymph nodes tested were cancerous. His diagnosis was stage 3 male breast cancer. He underwent surgery at Aultman Hospital in April 2013, which was followed by 16 rounds of chemo and 33 radiation treatments. “I have to be on a cancer pill for the next five years,” he said.
“The chemo damaged my immune system,” Williams said. “It’s my new normal.”
About his cancer misdiagnosis in 2011, Williams said, “The surgeon said I should’ve had a needle biopsy like they give a woman. You’d think it would be standard. In the U.S., 2,500 men every year are diagnosed with breast cancer.”
“Being a man, I didn’t have the psychological problem that a lady does,” he said about his breast surgery.
At Aultman, “I had unbelievably good care,” said Williams. “One nurse, Barb Fleming, was extra encouraging during my treatment. I bonded with her. They’ve nicknamed her ‘the vein whisperer.’ ”
The future looks bright for Williams, married for 52 years to his wife, Diana, with whom he has three children.
“I feel very blessed and thankful. The doctors say I’m in remission,” he said. “I believe it was God’s will to heal me. I’m thankful that He saw me through it. He gave me peace. I had many, many people praying for me.”