by Frank M. Maye, LAc
During the summer of 1990, I was changing my youngest son’s diaper. Like many infants, his cute kicking made contact with my chest. A jolt of pain brought my attention to a lump under the nipple of my left breast. I thought little of it.
My career was in the Miami Police Department. Officers have an annual physical each year. The doctor in charge was a female, who better to check on this problem. I inwardly laughed. She examined me! “Has your nipple bled?” she asked. No! I said. “It’s not retracted.” “Don’t worry about it!” She said, “It is most likely a cartilage tear from working out.”
NINE months later, the discomfort was increasing. I went to see a local physician. She looked, felt the area, sighed and advised the impossible! Tomorrow, I want you to go for a mammogram. GOD! Men don’t get mammograms, I thought! Schedule me first thing in the morning! The very first patient! I do not want anybody to think that I am a pervert. I joked and laughed with terror.
The next morning, I arrived at the hospital early. The receptionist looked bewildered. Is the test for you, sir? I bumbly nodded. At thirty-nine years old, and in athletic shape, I gave the appearance of perfect health. I also felt well! The test was over, and I knew I was in trouble. I sat in front of the radiological viewing room! Maybe, a dozen physicians curiously were reviewing my films. “Frank, go back to work.” I felt momentarily better. Two hours later, while at my desk, I receive “THE” telephone call. Our family doctor wanted me, and my wife, to be at their office half hour before she was scheduled to open the office. “Frank, bring your insurance provider list please!” I entered the office with more than intuition. The thoughts were frightening. Here it came! “Frank, we need to discuss an oncological surgeon to do a biopsy for breast cancer. There is a tumor; most probably, it is benign. However, male breast cancer does exist, and it is very serious. I still hadn’t felt sick yet! For the first time n years, I was scared! These words accomplished what criminals had not. I couldn’t cry or be angry because tings were moving so fast; there was no time to feel. The next two weeks were a numb blur. So many tests, so much denial. Life on the surface went on. The search for the best oncologist was the only mission worth discussing.
I am in the operating room. It is so cold. I laugh. I joke. The little boy in this grown police sergeant’s body wants to crawl out of here and be held. It’s not the time, I must be tough. Local anesthesia! My God, this is like going to the dentist. The cutting is over, and I am back at home. Tomorrow, I was back to work as if this never happened. Maybe a week later, the “Call” comes. Once again I am at the desk. “Mr. Maye, it s cancer.” We need to remove your pectoral muscle, triceps muscle, and part of your lat muscle. The sinking feeling was unbearable. This couldn’t be happening. I am only thirty-nine. My children are so young, how will they grow up?
My cousins, my parents, and the doctor who delivered my children all collaborated. We decided upon a modified radical mastectomy on the left side, and a minimal mastectomy on the right side to prevent re-occurrence. It is like a whirlwind. The nightmare continues. The oncological surgeon does not care that I want to be educated. We eventually become friendly with the assertive efforts of my children’s obstetrician.
The surgery is in the afternoon, and it is a success. My chest burns and for the first time I feel sick. Five tubes run from my chest into awaiting bottles. It looks and feels frightening. For the first time I realize I have cancer. My parents are next to me. Their eyes reflect fear and concern as well as the need to give me strength. My wife’s father is across the street in another hospital. She has so much on her mind, Yet, intuitively I sense her fear of my disease. Is it me, or is it her? The loneliness of cancer.
The next morning at six o’clock, I’m alone and clear minded. I decide to leave the hospital. The doctor agrees and advises me that he removed eleven lymph nodes and five tumors approximately two 1/2 centimeters. The disease is not over. The bomb has exploded and the war is raging. Two months of tests are scheduled. Fluid from the tubes infiltrates the chest cavity and needs to be drained. Halcyon is prescribed to temper the horrific insomnia and ease the adrenal glands. The resulting mood swings and hypoglycemia trigger more tests. The Halcyon is removed from the market for its psychological impairments. My blood work still is elevated. I see others in treatment and they are worse off than I am. There is no consolation in this. The fear is sometimes overwhelming. The loneliness of a cancer patient is awesome. Each trip to the doctor, (every three months), triggers anxiety.
My chest is so disfigured when the bandages are removed. There is no nipple. I think to myself, why am I being so vain. I am a man. The nipple is not important, but it is. I want to be intimate, but my wife avoids me. She tells me that the scarring does not bother her, but if I want to wear a shirt, she will understand. I feel so down. I remain quiet. I do not want to let on that part of me is weak. She eventually sleeps in the room with our children for eighteen months. I know the relationship is over, but who will want me now? God, men should not think like this. A police officer like me must be tough. The marriage eventually would formally end seven years after the surgery.
The light shines through to my soul on one special day. I decide to swim at a local pool. Hundreds of bystanders crowd together. With my Irish temperament at its pinnacle, I take my shirt off. If someone makes fun of me, or looks cross-eyed they would get my Irish wrath. Ahhhh! Nobody looked and I swam for a half hour. It is nice to be back and I am accepted. As I rest on the side of the pool, I watched a young woman enter the pool area. She is in her early twenties. Attractive, and with an air of confidence, she sits on the edge of the pool. In a flash she removed her flesh covered prosthetic leg and began to swim. I began to cry. Such courage in a child. I beg God to give her a husband who will match her spirit.
My life will change. I began to study Tai Chi Chuan and movement. I finished college and retired. My investigative background was intensive and unparalleled, I felt western medicine was good and well documented. I vowed to use my worthy skills to investigate and study Chinese medicine. The education necessary to be licensed and academically proficient was five year past-graduate. Many, including western physicians, helped me accomplish this. Today, I devote my life to helping cancer patients maintain good immune response, deal with pain and chemotherapy side effects with very good results.
Although the marriage ended, I did find someone who truly loves me. Like many of my breast cancer “sisters”, I have found someone who loves my soul. The intimacy we share is based on many qualities most often taken for granted, called friendship. Together we treat and help other cancer survivors with scalp acupuncture and highly sophisticated herbal therapies. Cancer has enlightened my soul and brought me closer to our creator. For this and the understanding of my fellow person, I am grateful. For all you who read this, never give up Hope! Take charge of your future and you will have a future to enjoy. Make changes. Get the education you want. Open the business you dreamed of. Expect love and respect from your significant other. Have faith in God. Seek a New Purpose!
Bye for now,
Dr. Frank Maye
FRANK M. MAYE, L.A.c , Acupuncture Physician, Certified Hypnotherapist, Oriental Medicine. Frank Maye, A.P., was a well-decorated Miami Police Lieutenant for twenty one years. Many disabling injuries and Male Breast Cancer were just a few challenges along his path. Trained at the Pacific Institute in transformational psychology, he in-joys empowering patients with affirmations and visualization. Medical degrees in Oriental Medicine and Auriculomedicine from the University of Miami School of Medicine, are coupled with an unparalleled investigative experience. Dr. Maye may be contacted at 305-558-2469.
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