Man living with breast cancer shares experience

CLEVELAND, Ohio (WYTV) – Jerry Rubenstein has stage four metastatic breast cancer and now it has spread to other organs.

It all started in 2013 when he found a little lump in his chest. He said originally he was told that the lump was stage one and that it wouldn’t come back following a mastectomy. So, just like women who are diagnosed, Rubenstein had his breast tissue removed.

An avid runner for 30 plus years, he prioritized his health and kept in shape, lifting weights and running six miles every other day. Then, about four years ago, the cancer came back.

“This time it had spread to the lymphatic system – the spine, spleen,” Rubenstein said. “And eventually went to a couple other places — the lungs really bad, bronchial tubes really bad.”

Rubenstein had to stop running and he was coughing up blood. His wife, Debbie Rubenstein, said the ordeal has been a nightmare.

“I wake up every day thinking about it. That’s the first thing that crosses my mind,” Debbie said. “Seeing him going downstairs every day and exercising and he does not give up. So, that gives me hope, and that is what the doctors tell us, that half of the treatment is exercising.”

Rubenstein said he tried to find other men to talk to at breast cancer support groups, but says he couldn’t find one that allows men and he was turned away.

He says there is a perception that men don’t get breast cancer and it is embarrassing. Perception even caused his insurance company to deny a prescription from his doctor.

“(They) said because I was not a post-menopausal woman, I could not go on the medication,” he said.

According to the American Cancer Society, breast cancer is 100 times less common in men than women. Almost all breast cancer clinical trials and research are done on women.

“I keep plugging away,” Rubenstein said. “I want to publicize it and let men know that they can get it, because a lot of men don’t know that they have breast tissue, let alone that they could get breast cancer.”

Rubenstein has spoken to groups in the Cleveland area where he lives.

Metastatic cancer is not curable, but it’s treatable. The goal is to shrink the tumors, which he says are all over his body.