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Pennsylvania man being treated for breast cancer at the Cleveland Clinic shares important message

Brian Chrobak was the picture of health. So, when he found a lump on his breast, cancer was the last thing on his mind.

CLEVELAND — Brian Chrobak's unexpected journey began just over a year ago.

"For a while, I had a small lump on my left chest, directly behind my nipple," Brian told us.

He was an active, 35-year-old from New Castle, Pennsylvania.

"To be honest, I thought it was just a cyst," Brian said. "I got out of the shower. It looked different. It started to like throb."

He knew it was a problem, but breast cancer never crossed his mind.

"I still kind of was in denial," he told us.

Brian showed the lump to his girlfriend, and that was enough to get him help.

"I went to see my primary care (doctor), did a simple biopsy and ... that was the beginning of that," Brian explained.

He was healthy, with no family history. Yet, Brian was diagnosed with receptor-positive breast cancer.

"This is the most common subtype of breast cancer in men as well," Brian's oncologist, Dr. Erin Roesch, of the Cleveland Clinic.

But the statistics? Not common at all.

"Male breast cancer is very rare. In the United States, male breast cancer represents about 0.5 to 1 percent of all breast cancers diagnosed each year," Dr. Roesch said.

Brian was the picture of health. It didn't make sense.

"I played baseball my entire life, through college. I played pickup basketball on and off my whole life. It was just such a rare occurrence in a male my age, my overall health, which is pretty good," Brian told us.

Credit: Brian Chrobak

Despite living in Pennsylvania, Brian chose treatment from the Cleveland Clinic. He had chemotherapy to shrink the cancer in his breast and lymph node.

Most recently, he had surgery to eradicate the rest.

This cancer has been a table flip on Brian's life. But, he's never let it get him down, or made him slow down.

"I figured the best thing for me to do is to keep moving through it. So I kept working out ... I'd go for jogs," Brian said. "I didn't miss much work at all. All of those things help. It actually gives you more energy."

Today, Brian has a message for anyone second-guessing a trip to the doctor:

"Leave your ego at the door a little bit. Nothing in life in general, especially when it comes to medically-related, gets better by ignoring it," he said. "You know, get it checked out, speak up."

This experience has taught him something else, too: What really matters.

"I'm most grateful for all of the relationships in my life. It's definitely the people in my life because when you're laying there or sitting there, you're not thinking about what car you want or what next truck you want to drive ... what runs through your mind are the people that you love."

Brian has more treatment ahead, but his future and prognosis are great.


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