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RARE MALE VICTIM SPEAKS OUT: My name is Tom.. and I'm fighting breast cancer; IT'S not only women who get breast cancer... just ask Tom McNab. Tom refuses to be beaten by the disease and last year took to the catwalk in his kilt at a glittering fashion show run by charity Breast Cancer Care. As we launch a hunt for models male and female who have survived breast cancer for this year's show, he talks openly about his ordeal.

Byline: By LESLEY ROBERTS

TOM McNab thought breast cancer was a woman's disease. When he found two small lumps on his chest, he thought they'd simply fade away as quickly as they had appeared.

And when his wife urged him to go to the doctor for checks, he reacted like a typical man and ignored her.

But after caving in, and now having gone through a mastectomy operation, lymph gland removal and radiotherapy, Tom knows only too well that men can be victims too.

After the removal of the tumour, he has scarring on his chest and is missing his right breast He will take the breast cancer drug Tamoxifen for the rest of his life.

'I had no idea that men could get breast cancer until this happened to me,' says Tom, 55, from Dalgety Bay in Fife.

'I was surprised and a little bit embarrassed to hear that I had something I thought of as a woman's disease.

'But my main feelings were the same as anyone's who is told that they have cancer.

'I felt cold inside and frightened that something so bad was going on in my body.'

Breast cancer is rare in men. Around 250 cases are diagnosed in Britain annually, 13 of them in Scotland.

That compares to 3500 Scots women who develop the disease every year. Medics are baffled as to why any men contract it.

And because men are unaware of any risk, they often fail to spot warning signs, like a lump or puckering of the breast skin.

Tom, an IT contractor, finally went to the doctor, who did not initially suspect cancer but he later referred him to a specialist.

Tom's first surgery was in 1990. He has been clear of cancer for the past three years.

With the support of his wife Pat, daughter Jane, 36, and son Gavin, 33, he has returned to normal life. He even jokes that his chest scars are the result of a shark attack.

But his ordeal has given him an insight into the effects of breast cancer on women.

He said: 'I can really understand how women are affected by this kind of surgery. I know it must be so much worse for them in every way.

'I feel like I have seen this disease from the inside, from a woman's point of view.'

When he took part in the first Breast Cancer Care Scotland fashion show last year, Tom met another male sufferer, Bill Steele, and they were able to share experiences.

The charity produce a leaflet with advice for men and encourage them to be vigilant for warning signs.

They say male sufferers can initially feel isolated but they are there to help them.

Now here's your chance to join our supermodels

Cheers, girls: TV presenters John Amabile and Sarah Heaney toast last year's model performanceIF you want to be one of the models at Breast Cancer Care's fashion show, fill in the coupon below and send it to Fashion Show, Sunday Mail, Central Quay, Glasgow G3 8DA, by April 27. The charity's patrons, Cherie Blair and Geri Halliwell, are backing the show which is hosted by TV's Dougie Donnelly. You will be treated like a supermodel for a day with clothes from Glasgow's Princes Square shopping centre and styling by top hair and make-up artists. To buy tickets for the show at the Radisson Hotel, Glasgow, on October 7 or make a donation call our hotline on 0141-225 5746.

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Swing out mister: Tom met another male sufferer at the big fashion show
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Publication:Sunday Mail (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Apr 25, 2004
Words:596
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