Just like Christopher Robin and Winnie the Pooh, Brian has carted around his thread bear for 63 years. They both have a few loose threads and some wear and tear, but they are still chugging along.
Thread bear has damage on his breast – he’s a breast cancer patient, much like his owner.
“Thread bear was given to me on the first day by my grandfather – he’s been with me ever since, and the spooky thing is he has damage on his left breast just like me," says Brian.
"I took him to hospital and he lay on my bed with me and comforted me as he always does.”
The Tauranga resident, who doesn’t want to disclose his full name due to his profession, was diagnosed with breast cancer a month ago, after he found a small puckering on the left side of his breast.
Breast cancer is a women’s disease, or so the pamphlets and awareness suggest. However, there is one male case of breast cancer per 1,000 female cases that suggests otherwise. Brian is living that statistic.
“There’s 10 trillion cells in us and all it takes is one to go wrong,” says Brian. “Cells normally commit suicide when they are getting old, but cancer cells don’t.
“I knew that males got cancer in the nether regions and that’s about it really, apart from the usual organs, it never entered my head.
“I asked my doctor how long that piece of rot had been inside of me, and he said up to two years, and if I hadn’t got that rot out of me, I would be dead in six months.”
He thought he was just getting old when he found the lump, but mentioned it to his doctor anyway.
He went in for a mammogram expecting to come out with the results of a cyst, but he was wrong. A following ultrasound showed the 2cm long cigar shaped mass on his breast, next to his rib bone.
“It looked like something from a low budget horror movie – a black gremlin with tendrils sticking out.”
A week later he got the results. Bad news is always given face to face.
“I went cold with the news he gave me that I would be having a total mastectomy – not just the black blob and surrounds were to be removed.”
Brian faced chemo, radiation, and drugs, and his left arm will never be the same.
“I’m not even allowed to get my blood pressure checked on that arm because I have two lymph nodes pumping out all the rubbish, and if my arm gets one scratch I will infect so easily it’s not even funny.”
Although Brian doesn’t claim to be a writer he wants to tell his story, through a book titled “1 in 1000.000” , so that more males don’t wait too long to get something that looks so insignificant checked out. Much of the writing comes from what he likes to call his ‘middle of the night thoughts’. It’s a book that will inform, but more importantly entertain its readers.
“It’s an ongoing process. I’m still writing it, but I’m enjoying it – it’s keeping me from sitting around and being bloody morbid.”
“Everyone goes through much the same thing as I did: the initial shock, telling your family and friends, dealing with all the paper work, dealing with the professional people and technical jargon, and saying goodbye to a bit of your body.”
If your business, school or organisation would like to raise awareness of this potentially fatal disease for men and women contact Catherine Stewart on firstname.lastname@example.org or 027 274 6160.