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Breast cancer knows no gender: One man's battle against the disease

Posted at 11:39 AM, Oct 25, 2017

INDIANAPOLIS -- Upon starting my interview with Darrell Skaggs, I asked what he wanted his title to be for the story.

His response? “I’m a breast cancer survivor.”

Those words aren’t something you’d expect to hear, coming from a man.

But the reality is, men are also affected by the number one cancer killer of women.

“Men don’t think a lot about it. I would’ve never thought about me having breast cancer until this happened, and I’m like wow, people need to know,” said Skaggs.

“We see male breast cancer accounting for about 1 percent of all breast cancers, whereas female breast cancer is about 100 times more common,” said Dr. Kristen Govert, a fellowship-trained breast surgeon at St. Vincent Hospital in Carmel’s Women’s Center.

Skaggs was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2010, while being treated for a bad gallbladder.

“Not too many people would say thank God they got a bad gallbladder, but the bad gallbladder saved my life,” said Skaggs.

Now, seven years later and cancer free, Skaggs spends his spare time supporting other men going through the deadly disease.

“I’m now involved with American Cancer Society Reach to Recovery and if a man needs someone to talk to, American Cancer Society contacts me and I contact them.”

“I’ve been talking to a man from California, Sacramento. And Minnesota and up in Lafayette Indiana and right here in Indianapolis. So, there’s men out there that just need someone to talk to,” added Skaggs.

Skaggs said men need to pay attention to their bodies.

“Be aware, if you have any kind of a symptom like women do, like a lump or any kind of soreness, you should get it checked out,” said Skaggs.

Skaggs said that he now doesn’t take life for granted, and cherishes each and every day spent with his family.

I asked Skaggs what he likes to do for fun.

Aside from walking around parks with his wife and enjoying the outdoors, he loves to be with his grandchildren.  

“We have four and they’re just a treat, I get to pick them up after school twice a week. So they are just thrilled that I get to spend the time with them,” said Skaggs.

Though enduring two surgeries and four bouts of chemo wasn’t easy, Skaggs said he wouldn’t change his path—even if he had the choice.

“After it’s all over with, it’s actually been rewarding that God put this on me and now I’ve gotta use it to advise other men,” said Skaggs.

Skaggs also said he had the opportunity to be a “Warrior in Pink” for Ford, along with the Susan G. Komen campaign.

He said he got flown to New York and L.A. and they did photoshoots modeling the apparel, and shot a documentary about breast cancer.

“I modeled a jacket, it’s called the True Warrior jacket and whenever somebody would order that jacket, as soon as they hit buy, my photo would come up and my video would come up telling my story and I got to personally thank they people for ordering this, so that was pretty cool,” said Skaggs.

Despite his hardships, Skaggs remains extremely positive, “I just think God puts us here for a reason and we have things like this happen for a reason, and it’s something I’ve just gotta live with, it’s all good.”