(WOIO) - While it's Breast Cancer Awareness Month, this third week of October brings a lot of attention to male breast cancer. Though it's not as common in men, it's just as deadly.
It's estimated 1 in 1,000 men are diagnosed with breast cancer each year in the U.S. It doesn't seem like a lot, when you consider it's 1 in 8 women. But since it's so unexpected in men, by the time their cancer is found, it's often in the late stages.
That was the case for Mike Selsman, of Boston, who says he knew something was wrong one day after he went running. But he never imagined breast cancer.
"It moved to stage four, metastasized to other organs in my body," he says.
Selsman, like most men, had no idea he could even get breast cancer. Nonetheless, it's estimated 2,300 men in the U.S. are diagnosed with it each year and about 450 men die from the disease.
"I'm going to die from the cancer, I know that, but there is no time frame for it," Mike says.
His wife, Kara, fights back tears as he says that. She knows that kind of feeling well being a breast cancer survivor herself. For them, it's a team effort battling the disease and getting their message out.
"I want men to know they are susceptible to breast cancer. It's not just a women's disease," says Kara.
Just a few years ago, the couple took their fight to state lawmakers to get the third week of October designated as Male Breast Cancer Awareness Week. More states are joining in, mostly on the East Coast.
"I want people to get ahead of me, of where I was when I found out, and have a better chance to live longer and be cured," says Mike.
The pair is among the increasing number of people trying to get the word out that men need to know their family histories, too.
While more are on a mission with their own stories of survival, for too many others, it's with stories about the men in their lives lost to breast cancer, lost due to the lack of awareness. While we hear it all the time, it's a disease that does not discriminate.
"We deal with this together and we'd rather laugh than be sad. And we take each day as it comes and we fight everyday," says Kara.
Surprisingly, there is no routine testing recommended for men to detect breast cancer early.