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After being diagnosed with breast cancer, Glen Miller asked himself, “Why me?”
Since then, Miller has been an example for men and women everywhere who deal with it on a daily basis.
An assistant golf pro at Sandpiper Bay Golf and Country Club in Sunset Beach, Miller has had a history of medical problems. A few years ago, Miller was diagnosed with prostate cancer. He’s also had both knees replaced.
When he received the breast cancer diagnosis last year, he said, his “Why me?” attitude changed quickly.
“Because of my past medical history, it was easier for me to deal with the breast cancer diagnosis,” Miller said. “Now I just accept it, deal with it, and try to make the best of it.”
That’s exactly what Miller has done.
The 61-year-old Myrtle Beach, S.C., resident even participated in this year’s Wilmington Pink Fashion Walk, despite earlier fears that he might be on the only male participant.
“I thought I might be the only guy,” Miller said with a laugh. “When I found out other guys were going to be in it, it made me feel much better.”
Miller has been an active Professional Golf Association member since 1974 and served as a teaching pro in northern Virginia since that time before moving to the Carolinas on March 16.
“I was ready to get out of the rat race near Washington,” Miller said. “What better place to retire for a golfer than down here?”
Miller still plays golf about three times a week despite losing a considerable amount of strength while undergoing chemotherapy treatments three times in 2013.
“When the doctors found the lump, they said they had a case like mine about once every six years,” he said. “They weren’t entirely sure the lump started in the breast, but eventually they were able to diagnose it as breast cancer.”
Male breast cancer is a rare condition, accounting for only about 1 percent of all cases. The American Cancer Society estimates that in 2010, about 1,970 new cases of breast cancer in men would be diagnosed and that breast cancer would cause about 390 deaths in men (in comparison, almost 40,000 women die of breast cancer each year).
Breast cancer is 100 times more common in women than in men. Most cases of male breast cancer are detected in men between the ages of 60 and 70, although the condition can develop in men of any age. A man’s lifetime risk of developing breast cancer is about 1/10 of percent, or one in 1,000.
Miller found out he would need a mastectomy in January, but he didn’t want to talk about the surgery itself, only the after effects.
“Fortunately they didn’t have to touch any muscles around the area, so it didn’t affect my golf,” he said with a smile.
Miller said one of the most difficult things he had to deal with during chemotherapy was regaining strength after treatments.
“It’s a three-day recovery process after chemo,” he said. “I would have treatments on Friday, and I’d finally get back close to full strength on Wednesday. It took me the whole weekend and then some to recover.”
Miller said the women in his immediate family have been instrumental in his recovery.
“When I started this procedure, my daughter went with me to the first treatment,” he said. “I’ve never had to do any of this alone, which has been a huge help. My ex-wife has been very supportive, and it’s made it much easier,” he said. “I had a great oncologist and a great surgeon, but my ex-wife was there to ask all the questions and take care of everything for me. I’m very grateful for that.”
Miller thought one of the challenges he might face was setting up his chemotherapy treatments in the Carolinas after selling his condo in northern Virginia.
“I had no idea I’d sell my condo that fast, so I had to get treatments set up down here right away,” he said.
The doctors were able to coordinate a plan for Miller to receive his final three treatments in Murrells Inlet, S.C. He received his last chemotherapy treatment in May.
Among the hundreds gathered at “Pink Night” at Twin Lakes Seafood Restaurant, Miller stood tall.
“To see groups like this gather together for a cause like this, it’s special to me, obviously,” he said. “These people are dedicated to finding the help patients like me need.”
Sam Hickman is a staff writer for the Beacon. Reach him at 754-6890 or firstname.lastname@example.org.