Clifford Armstead is a man’s man.
The self-proclaimed cowboy loves rodeos, is a car fanatic, and has relatives’ football jerseys hanging in his family room, with a pool table as the centerpiece.
Three months ago, Armstead, 46, was diagnosed with breast cancer following a leakage from his left nipple. At the encouragement of his wife, he went to the doctor.
“It was traumatic,” said Armstead. “In life, you never want to hear the “C” or the “D” word -- which is cancer and divorce."
With his 20-year-old daughter and 5-year-old son in mind, Armstead underwent a bilateral mastectomy to remove tissue from both breasts as well as his lymph nodes.
“I was cut under both arms, and I was wrapped up,” he explained. “Still today, I have to wear a wrap."
Armstead also has family history with the disease. His mother lost her breast cancer battle at age 73.
Oncologist Lakshmi Kannan said breast cancers are not only passed down the same way in men and women, but the disease manifests similarly in both genders.
In men, Kannan said the BRCA 2 mutations mean an even higher risk of developing breast and other cancers. Ways to stay ahead of it include genetic testing and self-exams.
“Self-examination is exactly the same for men as it is women,” said Kannan, an oncologist at Methodist Charlton Medical Center. “In fact, it is easier for a man because men tend not to have that much of a dense breast tissue."
For now, Clifford is feeling just fine.
“They say I'm clear,” he said with a smile.
His doctors are keeping an eye on his health, while the soon-to-be grandfather has his sights set on another prize.
“I'm keeping the fingers crossed for the AC Shelby Cobra. That's what my wife promised me,” he said laughing.
Armstead is active with a breast cancer group for men, hosted by Methodist Charlton Medical Center. For more information on the meeting dates and times, contact Rev. Enette, Sr.: firstname.lastname@example.org.