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The insurance company thought it was a mistake.
“[They said], well, we don’t know about him being a man with breast cancer,” he said. “They called back and said, ‘He’s covered.’”
It was true. Garnett Davis, a male, had breast cancer.
According to the American Cancer Society’s website, www.cancer.com, males having breast cancer is about 100 times less common than women.
Taylor Countians have been raising money for cancer research, and the fundraiser will culminate on Friday with the annual Relay for Lift events. Davis, 86, from Campbellsville, served in the U.S. Army during World War II. He and his wife, the late Bernice Davis, moved to Louisville after the war. Davis worked at American Standard, teaching how to repair faucet fixtures.
The Davises returned to Campbellsville about 50 years ago and began operating a dairy farm. Davis said they had cattle and hogs and raised crops.
Davis, who used to live alone, now lives at The Grandview to undergo therapy for various ailments. He said he was the first in his family to have cancer.
“I’m the only one of the bunch,” he said.
The story began about 20 years go.
Davis said he watching television at home one night when he felt a lump on his right breast. He went to Taylor County Hospital and had it removed and tests ruled our cancer. However, he said, his doctors said he needed to have a few more tests. This time, the results showed cancer.
After his right breast was completely removed, Davis had to undergo radiation treatments. He said he made about 30 trips to Louisville.
“One time, it burned so bad they had to stop,” he said.
After having radiation treatments, Davis said, he didn’t want to eat or drink. He said he just wanted to lie down.
“I felt like I was dying,” he said.
It was Davis’ wife who kept him going, he said, and got him to eat again.
“Pulled me out of it.”
After radiation, Davis took a pill a day for several years and had yearly checkups. He has been cancer free ever since.
He said hearing that he had cancer was quite a shock.
“Just about like getting hit in the head with a sledgehammer,” he said. “That’s what it’s like. It just hits you all over.”
Davis said having breast cancer and not lung cancer was even more of a shock.
“I smoked just about all my life,” he said. “I quit when just about everything started happening to me.”
While hearing his diagnosis, Davis said he didn’t even think about the rarity of him being a man and having breast cancer.
“Well, I didn’t think about being a man,” he said. “I just thought about cancer.”
And he was worried about telling his wife, who was waiting for him outside of the doctor’s office.
“But we took it in stride,” he said. “She was a good woman. Had to be to put up with me.”
The most recent American Cancer Society study estimates that about 2,190 new cases of breast cancer will be diagnosed in men this year and about 410 will die.
For men, according to the American Cancer Society, the lifetime risk of getting breast cancer is about 1 in 1,000.
The outlook for men with breast cancer is similar to women who get the disease.
Doctors were never able to tell Davis how he contracted his cancer. He said he once hurt his chest when he fell off a ladder, which he believes might have contributed.
Though Davis’ battle with cancer may be over, one of his grandson’s isn’t. Josh Davis was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia in December. He is on the bone marrow transplant list.
Throughout his treatment, Davis said he never worried that he wouldn’t survive.
“Never gave it a thought,” he said. “I’m just that way.
“I made it through. Made it through several years now with it.”
Relay for Life
Jamaal Stiles, the chair of this year’s Relay for Life, said events will begin at 8 p.m. on Friday and end Saturday morning at 8. Events will be at the Taylor County High School track.
The theme is “Colors of Cancer,” representing the many different colors that represent different types of cancer.
Stiles said bands Forgiven and Driven will perform, and there will be games for adults and children.
Opening ceremonies will begin at 8 p.m. The luminaria ceremony will be at 10 p.m.
Stiles said 21 teams are registered to participate, and that number has increased from last year.
He said there hasn’t been a lot of participation in Relay for Life for the past few years. This year’s events are focused on rebuilding the event.
Stiles said the fundraising goal is about $40,000. As of last week, $23,000 has been raised toward that goal. Money raised is given to the American Cancer Society to help pay for research, travel expenses and lodging for cancer patients.
He said there will be a booth at the events on Friday with information about a cancer survey being conducted in Taylor County. Those age 30 and older can participate.
Relay for Life Schedule of Events
Friday, June 22
• 6 p.m. - Wrist bands for inflatables available for $5
• 7 to 7:45 p.m. - Survivor registration and meal, food and luminarias on sale
• 8 p.m. - Opening ceremonies, faces of cancer speaker, introduction of survivors, survivor lap, caregivers lap, introduction of teams and teams lap
• 9 p.m. - Laps begin, live music
• 10 p.m. - Luminaria sales stop
• 10:30 p.m. - Luminaria ceremony
Saturday, June 23
• Midnight to 1 a.m. - Dance off
• 1 to 2 a.m. - Relay for Life scavenger bingo
• 2 to 3 a.m. - Bunco
• 3 to 4 a.m. - Cornhole
• 4 to 5 a.m. - Zumba
• 5 to 6 a.m. - Board games
• 6 to 7 a.m. - Breakfast bingo
• 7 to 8 a.m. - Closing ceremonies with awards