A Manhattan man diagnosed with breast cancer at age 90 spoke to raise awareness of the condition in men in a National Breast Cancer Awareness Month event held by Northwell Health.
Speaking at a virtual news conference on Oct. 7, married couple Marvin Wax and Sandy Wax were joined by Dr. Paul Baron, director of the Breast Cancer Program at the New Hyde Park-based medical system’s Lenox Hill Hospital and Manhattan Eye, Ear, and Throat Hospital in a discussion about the importance of screening for early detection.
Traditionally thought of as a woman’s disease, Wax revealed that he “felt something” in the area of his left breast last year while on vacation in Spain, but just couldn’t bring himself to tell anyone about it.
“I found a lump while we were vacationing in Barcelona,” Wax said. “And I told myself that I would go to the doctor after the vacation. When we got back home, I just didn’t go. I couldn’t believe that this could happen to me at my age.”
Wax’s primary care physician saw the lump in his chest during a checkup and referred him to Baron.
“A needle biopsy in the office tested positive for invasive cancer of the left breast,” Baron said. “We also learned that the tumor was estrogen receptor-positive. We decided to treat Mr. Wax with anti-estrogen medication (Tamoxifen) and he will be re-examined later this year. If there is no response to the medication, Mr. Wax will undergo surgery to remove the tumor.”
“I’m so grateful to Dr. Baron,” Wax said. “I knew what the mammogram would reveal, but I also had a variety of tests X-rays, PET scans…so much radiation that I lit up the room. But we all knew what the result would be.”
Sandy Wax, Wax’s wife of 68 years and a breast cancer survivor herself, believes that cancer is a family problem.
“This is a man who never kept a secret, and yet he kept his suspicions to himself for over a year,” she said. “This is so important to say – cancer doesn’t know whether you’re male or female. You must go to the doctor if you suspect something is wrong.”
Baron also sought to remind people that living through a pandemic is not an excuse to neglect other aspects of one’s health.
“It’s important to remember that our facilities are open for testing,” Baron said. “Sadly, we’ve noticed that the incidence of mammograms are significantly down since the pandemic began. This is very dangerous. Please come in for testing.”
“Don’t do what I did,” Wax said. “Please get checked right away. Or as I like to say, ‘If you see something, do something.’”