Breast cancer is most commonly thought of as a woman's disease. But in rare cases, men can develop it as well.
One local father is currently being treated for the disease. He not only wants to spread awareness to help save other men's lives, he's courageous enough to strut on the runway with other female breast cancer patients to send a message.
Jay Zapata’s breast cancer was discovered just months ago. The 39-year-old father of two suddenly fell ill. Never did it cross his mind he might have breast cancer. The father of two developed strange symptoms and then his wife urged him to go to the hospital.
”He started getting leakage on the right breast,” said Jovahna Gonzalez, organizer of Hope on the Runway. “That's what finally pushed him to get his mammogram. Sure enough, it came out positive for breast cancer.”
Now he's undergoing radiation and he’s spreading awareness to other men who may feel too macho to get a mammogram.
“We give props to Jay,” she said. “That he actually said, 'You know what, I do want to bring that awareness to men.'”
Courageously, he's strutting on the catwalk with other women in the Fabooblicious 4th Annual Hope on the Runway event on October 27.
“He’s our first man!” Jovahna exclaimed. “We bring encouragement and uplift the models and we honor the models as their walking the runway.”
To give you some idea of how rare Jay's diagnosis is, the National Breast Cancer Foundation says that less than one percent of all breast cancer cases develop in men.
Experts say that men carry a higher mortality rate than women because awareness among men is less, which can cause a delay in seeking treatment. In the meantime, the Hope on the Runway fashion show has seen women cured, including a special model; a mother of two who now volunteers every year.
“Erika Carey, she has been one of our models this past year and she’s always there to help. We love to see our survivors," Jovahna said.
The downside? Four models have been lost to the deadly disease. It’s a heartbreaking truth for the event's organizers.
“It actually happens maybe months after the runway show, where we find out that one of the models passed away. Their battle was over. Three models this past year alone we lost,” she said.