Husband and wife breast cancer survivors in Turkey take charge of life

Husband and wife breast cancer survivors in Turkey take charge of life

Husband and wife breast cancer survivors in Turkey take charge of life

Men account for only one percent of breast cancer diagnoses, according to global statistics, while the chances of both husband and wife contracting breast cancer are particularly slim.

However, Birol and Sedef Tutcu suffered this ill fortune, with 53-year-old Birol being diagnosed with cancer 15 years ago and then his wife following suit 10 years later in 2012.

“I kept my spirits up and continued to receive [chemotherapy] treatment,” Birol said.

Cancer struck his wife Sedef just as Birol’s treatment was coming to an end, with him attending little more than routine controls. But she also managed to overcome the disease.

“We have a daughter, about whom we worry. If both her parents have breast cancer, is she also at risk? We attend regular checkups together, as husband and wife. They call us ‘experienced’ patients,” Sedef said.

Following her experiences with cancer, her friends also opted to go for regular checkups, and doctors subsequently diagnosed two of her friends.

Due to lower rates of breast cancer among males, many men only learn about the disease when it hits them, and have a hard time coping. Burhan Aslan was one such patient. His first experience of the illness was waking up in the middle of the night to see his breasts bleeding.

The following morning doctors diagnosed him with the first stage of breast cancer. He was 29-years-old.

Over the next five years he received medication and attended regular checkups. “During this time I did not meet any other cancer patients or visit any relevant foundations. I did not even see myself as having cancer,” Aslan said.

Although he finally overcame the cancer, later he suffered a relapse. The disease reached stage 3 and spread to the adenoids.

Only then did Aslan feel the need to speak about the issue and contact foundations. While previously he struggled to tell those around him about his condition, he has now reached a point where he attends conferences and consultation meetings and shares his experiences with others.

“No male patient has ever come [to the conferences and consultation meetings],” Aslan said.

“These associations [that help people cope with cancer] are very important. Online information is often polluted. Thanks to the association, I have become self-aware. I’m so glad we have them,” he said.

Hasan Tarhan, 40, is another who thought that breast cancer only affected women, until he himself was diagnosed with the disease four years ago. He has since overcome the cancer but still attends checkups every three months.

“Not only my [immediate] family but also my extended family started going for regular checkups after me,” Tarhan said.