Posted on

Breast cancer not exclusive to females

Breast cancer not exclusive to females
Breast cancer not exclusive to females
John Cornwell of Harrison County talks about his personal experience with breast cancer at the Oct. 8 Pink-A-Palooza event at Hayswood Nature Reserve west of Corydon. Photo by Jo Ann Spieth-Saylor

John Cornwell knows all too well the effects of breast cancer. And, hoping not to offend anyone, he removed his shirt on a brisk, chilly Saturday morning to show the scars from his experience saying, ‘We often don’t see what it looks like.’
Cornwell was the guest speaker for the sixth annual Pink-A-Palooza Breast Cancer Benefit in Harrison County on Oct. 8 at Hayswood Nature Reserve west of Corydon.
‘Men can get breast cancer,’ he said. ‘About 1 percent, I’m told.’
For Cornwell, he credits his wife for him being a cancer survivor. It was at her insistence that he saw a doctor, which lead to tests and the cancer diagnosis.
Cornwell said his left nipple was ‘very irritated’ one day after his workout on the treadmill. His wife insisted he see a doctor ‘right away’ when he casually mentioned it to her.
‘I have a special feeling for you ladies when you have to go through a mammogram,’ Cornwell said.
During outpatient surgery, a tumor the size of a quarter was removed. Cornwell followed the surgical procedure with chemotherapy. He told of experiencing anxiety and a ‘tremendous’ weakness and hallucinations after each treatment, only to start to feel good again right before the next chemo session.
‘I was never afraid,’ Cornwell said. ‘I knew everything possible was being done.’
Support from family and friends lifted his spirit.
‘Then came time for radiation,’ he said.
His last dose of radiation was on Dec. 13. He now takes one pill a day prescribed for those who have had breast cancer to increase his estrogen.
Cornwell joked how he lost all of his hair and didn’t have to shave for four months.
With no family history of breast cancer, Cornwell, a Navy veteran, speculates his time at Camp Lejeune, which has been found to have had contaminated water from 1953 to 1987, led to his breast cancer.
‘You don’t know what’s going to cause it,’ he said. ‘You can get it, guys, but it’s curable.’
Cornwell said he has a better appreciation of life and a greater tolerance for things that once irritated him.
‘Cancer’s a bunch of (crap),’ he said. ‘You can beat it with your attitude.’
Before Cornwell spoke, the event started with a 5k run with 14 entrants braving the windy elements. The top three finishers were: men’s division ‘ Donley Bixler-Rigg, first, 26.15 minutes; Bruce Newton, second, 35.37 minutes; Michael Saunders, third, 35.55 minutes; women’s division ‘ Kim Burton, first, 35.30 minutes; Stephanie Nalley, second, 38.56 minutes; Nicole Saulman, third, 38.57 minutes.
About 70 people participated in the 5k walk that followed.
The Pink-A-Palooza event actually kicked off in August when Norton Hospital sent its mobile mammogram unit to Corydon and performed mammograms for 20-plus people. Heritage Ford also had a Drive 4 Ur Community, donating $20 toward the fundraising efforts for each person who test drove a vehicle that day.
‘Events such as our 5k run/walk help with funding research as well and helping people in our own county,’ Janay Hoehn, one of the event organizers, said. ‘In 2015 alone, we provided help to people in Harrison County facing breast cancer as well as other cancers.
‘We provided 22 cancer patients with over 31 programs and services, including three individuals who received 21 nights of free lodging at one of our Hope Lodges,’ she said. ‘There are over 30 Hope Lodges across the country providing people who have to leave home for cancer treatments at no cost to them for a place to stay.’
Funds help with providing lodging and research, as well as assisting patients who need help with transportation to and from chemo treatments.
Since 1989, the death rate from breast cancer in the United States has decreased by 36 percent, contributing to more than 249,000 lives saved from breast cancer, Hoehn said.
For more information, call the American Cancer Society, Lakeshore Division, at 1-812-475-9486 or ACS at 1-800-227-2345.