Male Breast Cancer Survivor Tells His Story To Raise Awareness

Monday, October 18th 2021, 5:08 pm

In Oklahoma, this week is Male Breast Cancer Awareness Week.

Anthony Merka has been working to raise awareness since he diagnosed with breast cancer in 2012.

What started with a lump on this chest changed his family's life forever.

"I dismissed it as maybe it was a calcium build up, a clogged sweat pore," said Merka. "Anything you could think of but not cancer."

But nine years ago, Merka heard a doctor said he had Stage IIA breast cancer.

He underwent a double mastectomy and chemotherapy, but now, he has a lifetime of extra precautionary tests ahead.

"Once I was diagnosed with breast cancer, they said, 'hey, let's see if you're BRCA2 positive,'" Merka said.

A few days after the test, Merka got a call that he was positive.

What that positive result means is he has an inherited mutation in his gene that's known to cause hereditary cancer.

"I had just turned 21 when we were tested," said Merka's daughter, Angela Kolander.

That's how old Kolander was when she found out she was also positive.

His other daughters were negative.

"You have that conflict of should I be happy because or should I be sad because I'm negative but she's positive?" said Merka's other daughter, Kelly Merka.

"It was little almost bittersweet," said Kolander. "I'm still young. I'm able to take this information and be proactive with it."

But Kolander wasn't the only family member that received a positive test.

"We've had probably anywhere from 10 to 15 relatives that have gone to get tested and found out they were BRCA2 positive," said Anthony Merka.

While taking proactive steps, one of those family members found out they had already developed cancer.

Now, Anthony Merka is working to spread awareness beyond his family at events and even at the capitol.

His message to men and women is to know your bodies. If you think something is off, get it checked. 

"I tell my kids all the time, if this is what I had to go through to get this information to our family and get them aware that this is serious you need to do this it was well worth it," said Anthony Merka. 

For more information on male breast cancer, visit the Mayo Clinic's official page