A ‘Fight for Survival’: Male Breast Cancer Awareness

Antwone Muhammad

CHICAGO (NNPA) – When you hear the name Twone Gabz, many of us are not familiar with the name unless we are true fans of Hip Hop and have followed the history of the Chicago Rap music scene. Known to family and friends as Antwone Muhammad, he’s been in the music business for almost 15 years, featured on projects produced by Grammy award producer, No I.D., Kanye West, Terry Hunter, DJ Jazzy Jeff, Erick Sermon and collaborations with Chicago artists; Mikkey Halsted, GLC, Keith Murray and Rhymefest among others.

One day when a trip to the emergency room suddenly changed the entire scope of his world when several tests revealed, he had been diagnosed with breast cancer. Taking a break from the music business to work in healthcare management for the past five years, Antwone had been experiencing some fluid leakage from his left nipple. The leakage had occurred off and on for a couple of years until his visit to the emergency room and the comfort of finally having health insurance.  Antwone explains his first ordeal, “My doctor wasn’t due to check on me for awhile and heard my voice in the hallway. She asked to check on my blood level. When she did, she noticed my hemoglobin had dropped to a six when it was supposed to be a 14. She couldn’t believe I hadn’t passed out or even died standing there, so they issued an emergency blood transfusion.”

According to breastcancer.org, a study concluded that African American men were less likely than white men to be referred to an oncologist or get chemotherapy for breast cancer, which is highly due to many not having healthcare.

Male breast cancer is a rare condition, accounting for only about 1% of all breast cancers (www.medicinenet.com) Antwone challenges this statistic, “They say it affects 1% of men, but those numbers are skewed because they are being updated based on census surveys. So, who’s really inviting a stranger into their house? Does the stranger ask you, “Does anybody in this household have cancer? My oncologist believes it to be like 7%-10% of men now.”

Although, a history of breast cancer in his family with his Aunt passing from leukemia and recently his grandmother being diagnosed within the same month as himself, it has made him more conscious of the illness.

A husband and father of two children; a two-year old daughter and 13-year old son, the ordeal has turned his fight for survival into a mission of awareness. “Maybe, we could have tried this or that treatment but now they’re gone…it’s too late. So, I felt like if there’s anyone who can me help me or give me any advice, I’m going to take to everybody because you never know where your angels are.”

Antwone neither realized that worrying about his illness brought on stress and depression and it wasn’t healthy nor healing so he flipped his experience around by sharing it openly on social media,”Some people really confide and open up. A young lady was sharing with us during a Q & A I conducted online and she was six months pregnant; going through chemo and asking for advice on what type of dietary practices should she have? I couldn’t give her that kind of advice because every person is different. But it’s been great just to see people and how they’ve taken to it.”

Through the power of social media and online engagement, his open discussion has lead to people whose sending him messages, admitting that they too are getting mammograms and going for doctor check-ups.

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