Updated: Friday, 3rd July 2020 @ 7:20am

'It can happen to men too': Tragic one-in-a-million odds see disease return for 79-year-old male breast cancer sufferer

'It can happen to men too': Tragic one-in-a-million odds see disease return for 79-year-old male breast cancer sufferer

By Lucy Kenderdine

After a gruelling six year battle against cancer, Peter Fleming was told it was a one in a million chance that the disease would return.

He was, effectively, cured.

But as a 79-year-old abseiler, odds have never really played a part in Peter's life. Tragically the cancer returned last month, more aggressive than ever.

Facing the prospect that this time doctors believe it to be terminal, Peter spoke to MM about the reoccurring cancer and the need to raise awareness of the disease in men.

Peter was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 2005 after he suffered discomfort in his chest while training for the London marathon, aged 70.

After discussing the problem with his GP, Peter had a mammogram where it was revealed that he had breast cancer.

"It was such a shock when I found out and I never quite thought that I had cancer,” he said.

In March 2011, after years of treatment, doctors believed that the cancer had disappeared and Peter was advised to discontinue the use of the drugs.

So when he found out that the cancer had tragically returned, the news was even more devastating.

“In 2011 I was, for all intents and purposes, cured.  But in actual fact the cancer never went away.

“By stopping with the medication the cancer was able to get a more firm hold and now it has become permanent and incurable.

“I’m living three months at a time as I attend consultations and deal with more treatments than ever. "

While a lot of people would have been overcome with emotion at the news, Peter channelled his feelings into his charity work.

Most recently, Peter took place in a charity abseil down the Corn Exchange building in the city centre along with 34 others.

"I'm not the type of person to really get scared by anything, but it certainly was an exciting experience."

Even without the element of fear, the abseil was a challenge for the Sale resident in his eightieth year.

"The girl who went before me slipped as she was going down but she held on.

"I then did the same and I heard gasps from the crowd below but I had faith in the people helping me and continued with the rest of the abseil."

He added: “It was such a joy to hear the support from the crowd and their applause once I made it to the end.”

The event was planned to raise money for Wythenshawe based Genesis Breast Cancer Prevention- the UK's only charity entirely dedicated to the prevention and prediction of breast cancer.

The efforts of the retired civil servant along with the others meant more than £3,500 was raised for the charity and the money is still rolling in.

"I've been out and about today collecting some of the money from the event and I'm starting to get recognised for my charity work in Manchester, like a celebrity does.

"I was at church and the vicar said that he had seen me in the newspaper and congratulated me for the abseil so I offered him an autograph!”

But Peter is not content with just doing one abseil and he has more plans for future charity events and fundraisers.

 He said: "God willing I will run in the Manchester half marathon to promote the charity and the wonderful work they do."

"There's life in the old dog yet," he added.

Currently undergoing treatment at the Christies hospital, the Genesis charity has helped him with his own personal battle with cancer.

Peter said: “Genesis Breast Cancer Prevention is a charity very close to my heart.

"It has been a real support to me over the years, and I hope that the abseil has helped highlight that both men and women can be affected by breast cancer.”

Around 370 men are diagnosed each year in the UK with breast cancer and it is much rarer than the disease in women with 48,400 cases.

Both Peter and the charity aim to increase the awareness of male breast cancer which affects one in 1,000 men and remains relatively unknown.

Pam Glass, founder of Genesis Breast Cancer Prevention, said: “We’re extremely grateful for the great lengths that fundraisers, like Peter, have gone to for Genesis.

"Without them we wouldn’t be able to fund the pioneering research being conducted at The Nightingale and Genesis Breast Cancer Prevention Centre.”

Image courtesy of ITV, with thanks.

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