Celebrating Survivors: Male breast cancer survivor on mission to spread awareness of disease
Cecil Herrin lives in Grovetown, Georgia, but he is well known in Aiken County because of the work his construction company does here and his efforts to promote awareness about breast cancer.
According to the National Breast Cancer Foundation, less than 1 percent of all cases of the disease develop in men, and only one in a thousand men will ever be diagnosed with breast cancer.
Herrin found out he was a member of that minority early in 2012.
“I had a knot that came up next to my right nipple,” he said. “It was about the size of a BB, and then it started growing.”
Herrin’s regular doctor told him there was nothing wrong with him. But Herrin was worried, so he told his cardiologist about the lump and his primary care physician’s lack of concern.
The cardiologist told Herrin he needed to get a mammogram and that she would make the arrangements for him.
After the mammogram, there was a biopsy, and when Herrin got the bad news, he said he was devastated and also shocked because “I didn’t know men could get breast cancer.”
Then Herrin underwent a mastectomy, and that procedure marked a turning point in his attitude about the disease.
“The moment I woke up from surgery, I knew that God had a purpose for me and that was to spread the word about men’s breast cancer,” Herrin said. “I took a negative and made it a positive.”
He joined a breast cancer support group called the Pink Magnolias, and he also agreed to let his photo be used in a calendar and to participate in a fashion show.
In addition, Herrin began speaking publicly about breast cancer and discovered it was something that he enjoyed a lot.
“I never turn down a request for a speech,” Herrin said. “I don’t care if I have an audience of one person or 25,000. When I stop to get gas or I go into a store, I talk to both men and women about breast cancer. It’s something I do each and every day because I know it saves lives.”
Another priority for Herrin, 73, has been raising money for breast cancer-related causes through a variety of events and other efforts.
A fund named for Herrin provides assistance to men suffering from all types of cancer. It is based at the Georgia Cancer Center at Augusta University.
“Every dime stays here in the CSRA,” Herrin said. “We give out gas cards to patients, and we’ve paid for lodging and food.”