Fort Mill, SC - Ron Bush likes to say his wife, Phyllis, nagged him to life. Prior to 2008 Ron did not know that men could have breast cancer. That is, until he was diagnosed with it.
Phyllis was actually diagnosed with a form of breast cancer first in the fall of 2008. Ron was caring for her when she found a knot of the right side of his chest.
"She said, 'You need to get that checked out,'" Ron told Fox 46 News. "I said, 'Checked out for what, honey?' And she said, 'Breast cancer.' I said, 'Phyllis, I ain't got no breasts, what are you talking about?'"
Ron's annual check-up was just a few weeks away. Phyllis insisted on going with him. She pointed out the knot to the doctor who then sent Ron for a mammogram.
"They decided it could be anything, but we'll do a biopsy and see what's happening. Five days later I get a call. Aggressive breast cancer," Ron recalled.
Ron's situation is rare. Men account for only about one percent of breast cancer cases in the United States. He admits he struggled with the diagnosis.
"All of us, I mean, we were devastated. Not knowing that it could happen to a man, none of us knew it could happen," Ron said.
Men are often diagnosed at later stages than women, likely because they're less likely to report symptoms. Thankfully Ron's cancer was caught early.
"I shudder to think what would've happened to me if Phyllis wasn't in my life," he said.
Ron had a mastectomy in early 2009. He actually saw the same surgeon at Levine Cancer Institute who had performed Phyllis' lumpectomy a few months earlier.
Together as a couple they fought cancer and recovered.
Ron now calls it his mission to raise awareness about breast cancer in men. He's been involved with BCC Rally, Susan G. Komen Charlotte and more.
"All we want to do is put it out there to men. Look, if you discover a knot or any abnormal growth in your chest area, don't take it light. Get it checked out," Ron said. "If I can save one life, then what we've gone through is not in vain. It's not in vain."