Sharing the Unexpected Journey with My Dad

Sharing the Unexpected Journey with My Dad

Amy Berins Shapiro and her familyIt’s June which means it’s Father’s Day and Men’s Health Month.  My dad and I had a connection no child and parent should ever have.

In May of 2010 my life was changed forever when I was diagnosed with Triple Negative Breast Cancer in my right breast.  Shock and anger.  I had a lumpectomy followed by chemo and radiation.  The chemo knocked me on my butt.

As if things couldn’t get any worse, a year later at my year-mark mammogram, I was diagnosed with Triple Negative Breast Cancer AGAIN.  This time in my left breast and unrelated to my first diagnosis.  More shock and anger.  I had a double mastectomy followed by more chemo and radiation.  The chemo knocked me on my butt again.

The following year my life was completely shattered when my dad told us HE had metastatic cancer.  Turned out he had Triple Negative Breast Cancer too.  Yes, my DAD!  This time the shock and anger was much different.  It was worse for me to hear my dad, who I was so close with, had cancer.  And not just cancer, but Triple Negative Breast Cancer – the same exact kind I had, twice.  Knowing what I had just gone through, I didn’t want my dad to have to face this.  It was so hard for me to endure the chemo at 39 and 40 years old, so how would it be possible for my dad to handle the chemo in his 70s?

Unfortunately, it’s all too common to hear of female relatives – mother and daughter or sisters – sharing a breast cancer diagnosis, but FATHER and daughter?  What perplexed the doctors even more was we were both BRCA negative.  How could this be?

It’s hard going through cancer and chemo.  It’s also hard knowing no one can truly relate to what you’re going through.  I had pure empathy for my dad.  One day when he was having a bad chemo day he said something to me I will never forget: “I knew you were sick when you were going through chemo, but never had any idea how bad it was.  Now I know exactly what you went through.  Now I understand.”

My favorite memories of my dad were seeing him enjoy his time with my kids, Lily, Zach and Emma.  He was an amazing father who instilled so many values in me, and he was an equally amazing grandfather.

Rochelle and Sharsheret came into my life by luck.  Sharsheret helped me when I went through my cancer journey, and now Sharsheret is helping me share my dad’s story and advocate for male breast cancer awareness.

This will be my fifth Father’s Day without my dad.  It doesn’t get easier, but what I do know is we need to raise awareness and educate everyone NOT only about breast cancer, but also about MALE BREAST CANCER.  Because, men have breasts too.


You can read more about Amy’s family’s story by clicking on the following links: