John Kirtland

A man has to be bold and audacious to openly embrace the role as a breast cancer ambassador. Yet that’s what John has been since his first appearance in the 2010 calendar; standing proud for all men who like him, have breast cancer. For many years John took little notice of his right nipple that was somewhat discoloured, and even when it began to appear slightly inverted he remained unperturbed. It took finding a small lump underneath the nipple to become alarmed. A sonar exam, x-ray, followed by a biopsy confirmed the shocking truth and diagnosis of breast cancer in October 2008.  Treatment included five months of chemotherapy and a full mastectomy and 30 sessions of radiation. He says chemotherapy in itself is a life changing experience and admits there were times he felt angry and bewildered. Acceptance would eventually follow.

Today he is proud to reveal his zipper-scarred chest devoid of nipple, and hopes his candour may lead to the early identification of this customarily female cancer in other men. He retired kicking and screaming in 2010 but has realised the merits of this freedom and enjoys visiting family abroad. He has also taken to the stage to raise awareness.  It is now seven years since the completion of his treatment and he is in remission. He is steadfast in his positive and conquering attitude despite plenty of health challenges, including insulin dependent diabetes and charcot foot which makes walking and standing painful. He says his teeth also suffered terribly from his treatments. But despite all this he still believes: “Life is good.”

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