A HUSBAND and wife-to-be who both have breast cancer are now raising awareness of the condition in men as well as women.
Steve Rymond and Karen Johnson from Solihull received a double shock when they were both diagnosed with the disease earlier this year.
51-year-old Steve was at the doctors and decided to mention his inverted nipple as an afterthought.
And the decision – which resulted in an emergency mastectomy – might have saved his life.
The kitchen and bathroom fitter said: ” I didn’t feel pain or unwell, I just had the inverted nipple which initially I thought might just correct itself.
“It just shows that you don’t always know straight away when you’ve got cancer.
“Most of my friends admitted they probably wouldn’t have gone to the doctors, and that’s why I want to raise awareness about this silent killer which most people don’t realise can affect men as well.”
Men carry a small amount of breast tissue, and the form of cancer affects just under 400 men in the UK a year compared to over 55,000 women.
While the operation was a success, his fiancee Karen Johnson, 62, was diagnosed just two months later after finding a lump.
The mum-of-two had surgery to remove it but the cancer had spread into the lymph nodes and she is currently undergoing chemotherapy.
Steve said: ” I felt I could offer Karen better support since I understood it a bit more.
“I am just a ‘keep on, stay strong’ kind of person and I was determined not to let the cancer get me down.
“And I hope that my positivity has rubbed off on Karen. She knows I’m there to help and that we will get through it together.”
The couple who each have two children, were due to marry next July but will be forced to push it back.
Karen – who is two-thirds through her chemotherapy – said she wanted to make sure she was well enough and have all her hair back before heading down the isle.
And like her husband-to-be, Karen is determined to get through their ordeal and keep positive.
She added: ” I always like to find good in every situation and building awareness is so important to us.
“We’ve made so many friends since both going through this. We’ve joined lots of local support groups, and even a dog walking group for people affected by cancer. Everyone has been amazing and supportive and my friend even organised a coffee morning for us as part of our awareness campaign.”
The determined duo recently met with Solihull mayor Stuart Davis, to help raise awareness in the region.
And Karen’s daughter Ellie, 22, is taking on the three peak challenge, which includes Snowdon in Wales, Scafell Pike in the Lake District and Ben Nevis in Scotland, at the top of which she plans to strip down to a bikini.
So far she has raised £250 which will go to to the Breast Cancer Care charity which has supported the couple through their ordeal.
Go to www.justgiving.com/fundraising/ellie-johnson9 to sponsor Ellie.