Vance Stacks, Jr. is a three-time male breast cancer survivor. When he was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 2013, he was shocked. He didn’t think a male could get breast cancer.
“The public at large mostly thinks that breast cancer affects females. I know that because until I was diagnosed, I was of the same groupthink. Men just don't know, and it's a high mortality rate for us because we don't have symptoms until we're in the fourth stage. And when we feel knots and things, if it's not hurting, we don't go to the doctor. Unless our leg or arm is about to fall off, then we'll go, but other than that it's a manly thing to fight. I know better now, as a male that has survived – pink ain’t whatcha think.”
Even though Vance’s story has a positive outcome, his journey was extremely tough. After the cancer came back a third time in his left breast, he needed support from everyone around him. Some days, he needed a warm blanket and a shoulder to cry on. On others, he needed to hear his nurse say, “We’ve got this.”
“I was angry, upset and scared. But the experience at Methodist blew my mind because they have volunteers that just come around and check on you. I was having a really bad day, and a nurse came around and asked me if I was cold. He gave me the ugliest blanket, put it on me – and it felt so good. He fed me snacks, and it made all the difference. I still have that ugly blanket.”
After his first diagnosis, Vance made it his mission to spread awareness to the men in the Memphis community and beyond. He wears bright pink outfits around town, using the attention they receive to start a conversation about male breast cancer. He encourages men of all ages to research their families’ medical history, to self-check and to get annual mammograms.
“I survived. I made it through with the direct patient care of the doctors, nurses and medical staff as well as the indirect workings of many others who played a part in the process behind the scenes. I met great patients along the way, some are still here and others have transitioned. All of us were given great empathy, sympathy and understanding from the wonderful medical staff at Methodist University Hospital.”
Today, Vance donates blankets to cancer patients and raises funds for last requests and cremations for families that can’t afford funeral expenses through his nonprofit, Pink Ain’t Whatcha Think.
To hear more of Vance's story, watch the video below:
Breast cancer doesn’t wait. Neither should you.
An annual screening is a crucial step in detecting breast cancer early. To schedule your annual mammogram at one of our five locations, call 901-516-9000.