Men diagnosed with breast cancer are being invited to share their experiences in a dedicated forum, after research highlighted that males living with and beyond the disease often do not get the support they need.
Psychologist Dr Kerry Quincey, an active researcher from the Institute of Psychological Sciences at De Montfort University Leicester (DMU), is spearheading the initiative and launching what is believed to be the UK’s first ‘virtual meet-up’ - The Men's VMU - for men affected by breast cancer.
The idea came about after Dr Quincey – whose research findings revealed men did not feel they were offered the same level of support as women when undergoing treatment for breast cancer – spoke with US-based charities, including Male Breast Cancer Coalition, which have set up a similar forum in America.
Well-known UK breast cancer charity, Walk the Walk, which launched its ‘Men Get Breast Cancer Too!’ campaign in 2017, is also involved in the initiative.
“My findings demonstrate a need for improved care and resources for men with breast cancer – including communicative means, and especially between peers,” explained Dr Quincey.
“The Men's VMU will be a designated safe space hosted by men, for men, once a month. The meet-ups, which will be free for attendees, will be peer-led and hosted by male breast cancer ‘thrivers’.
“All men with a history of breast cancer diagnosis, based in UK-convenient time-zones are welcome to join the meetings.”
Dr Quincey has been working alongside breast cancer thriver Doug Harper, who participated in her research study, to develop the concept and get a closer insight into what patients want and need.
“I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer in 2012 and because it was and still is so rare in men, it’s hard to find other men talk to,” said Doug.
Doug Harper is working with Dr Kerry Quincey to launch the VMU
“Speaking to others who have gone through, are going through or about to go through what another individual has, is priceless. I had so much love and support at the time but not having contact with fellow sufferers left a gap in my support system.
“This forum can change all of that. Sharing experiences, giving advice and sharing stories, even just chatting about anything, is something that myself and others have been missing. As we go on, I’m sure we can help to raise breast cancer awareness in men too.”
There are approximately 400 new cases of breast cancer in UK men presenting each year and the disease is responsible for proportionally more male deaths annually than some men’s cancers, including penile and testicular forms – 22% of men diagnosed with breast cancer die, compared to around 21% of those with penile and 2.5% of those with testicular.
As one of the charity’s ‘go-to experts’, Dr Quincey has a close working relationship with Walk the Walk and has been a strong advocate of their male breast cancer campaign, raising awareness and encouraging students and staff at DMU to check their chests.
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Sally Orr, PR and Communications Director at Walk the Walk, said: “We have been working for more than three years with a growing number of men diagnosed with breast cancer on a Men Get Breast Cancer Too! awareness campaign, which has gone from strength to strength.
“Because Walk the Walk recognises the importance of the men meeting other men, once a year we get them together – many of them have never previously met a man who has had breast cancer. The Men's VMU, taking place monthly, is a huge step forward in supporting all men who have a history of the disease.
“It is wonderful to have Dr Quincey collaborating with Walk the Walk as one of our Health Experts, she is passionate about raising awareness for male breast cancer and her professional advice and experience are invaluable.”
The Men's VMU, launched on Thursday 22 October 2020 during International Male Breast Cancer Awareness Week, is also supported by NHS clinicians at Leicester's Glenfield Hospital Breast Care Centre.
Mr Aonghus Ansari, a surgical registrar at Leicester’s Hospitals, said: “There is a taboo that breast cancer is a disease that only affects women, this can have a profound psychological impact on men’s well-being and resilience.
“The Men's VMU will offer men an opportunity to share their experiences with breast cancer and to also listen to other men’s experiences. Realising that they are not alone in their experiences can positively influence their perspective and encourage them to be more open about the effects of cancer on their lives.”
Dr Quincey works with many breast cancer charities through her research. Earlier this year she was named the first collaborative psychologist for Against Breast Cancer (ABC), a national non-profit organisation that funds ground-breaking research into secondary spread breast cancer, focussing on prevention, detection and therapies.
She is also a panel member of the DMU Medical Forum, a national research group set up by fellow lecturer, Associate Professor Gillian Proctor, which aims to improve support for people affected by breast cancer.
Dr Kerry Quincey
“The goal is to provide men affected by breast cancer with a go-to meeting point where they can open up and talk freely about their experiences with male peers,” added Dr Quincey.
“It is crucial that we continue to raise awareness of male breast cancer and give the men affected a voice that can be heard.
“Through our ongoing research and the incredible work being done through the Medical Forum, DMU is proud to be at the forefront of making a change.”
The Men's VMU meets online via Zoom on the last Thursday of every month at 7pm. To join the conversation or for more information, contact Doug Harper by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
Posted on Tuesday 20th October 2020