Gregory Burchett has a message for other men: breast cancer is not just found in women.
"I want people to know you could still be a macho man and still have to watch for it," said Burchett, who runs a television and appliance store in Johnson County. "I have never been sick, never spent a night in the hospital until this. I've never had any medical problems whatsoever."
That is, he said, until he felt a lump.
Burchett, who is getting treatment at the University of Kentucky Markey Cancer Center, said it was last spring when he felt a twinge and the lump.
"I just felt some discomfort in that area," he said. "I kind of felt a little spot, and it kind of ached whenever I bumped it. I bumped it again later, and that ache was still there."
As some men will do, he put it out of his mind for a while. It took him a couple of months to even tell his wife of 42 years, Phyllis.
"Naturally, you hesitate. ... First off you are in denial; second, you just don't want to worry anybody," he said.
Within weeks of telling his wife, he was at UK getting treatment. When he found out he had breast cancer, Burchett said, "My first response was, 'Well is this going to punch my time clock?'"
The doctor said he should be fine. Burchett had a mastectomy in July.
According to the National Cancer Institute, breast cancer in men is relatively rare. Less than 1 percent of breast cancer is found in men.
But research has shown it is often linked to a gene mutation. That is the case with Burchett. He had an uncle with breast cancer, he said.
"He was a very strong, macho man," he said. "He was a really tough guy."
He died in his 90s of causes unrelated to breast cancer.
Burchett said it's a little weird to be the guy in the waiting room filled with women at the Markey clinic, which is awash in pink. But, he said, the staff there has been nothing but kind. And, he said, his wife has benefitted from help from The Pink Connection, a Lexington non-profit that serves breast cancer patients.
He said his tests have come back clear. Phyllis and their son, Scott, were with him at the clinic when he got that good news. It hasn't been decided whether he will need radiation or chemotherapy, but Burchett is optimistic.
He wanted to share his story so other men know they should act and not let denial keep them from taking care of themselves.
"I do want to stress if another man encounters or suspects it, don't wait, don't hesitate," he said.
Mary Meehan: (859) 231-3261. Twitter: @bgmoms. Blog: BluegrassMoms.com.