Breast cancer is New Zealand's third most common cancer, claiming more than 600 lives every year. While women are overwhelmingly more likely to be affected, men are not immune to the deadly disease. Five men were diagnosed in the Bay between 2014 and 2016, compared to 582 women. Bay of Plenty Times reporter Jean Bell speaks to a Pāpāmoa man who braved breast cancer and lives to spread awareness about the disease, to men and women alike.
Jack Jackson was gobsmacked when a doctor said he had breast cancer, four years after he first asked about the painful lump in his chest.
The 72-year-old from Pāpāmoa had been to multiple doctors about the bump above his nipple before the shock diagnosis in July.
"They tell you you've got cancer and everything just goes over your head. You're not hearing anything," the grandfather said.
"Every step my wife was with me. She was taking notes but I just sat there stunned. I still get quite emotional."
Originally from the south of England, the softly spoken former Royal Air Force technician had moved from Whangarei to Tauranga around three years ago.
At first, he was angry the lump had been missed.
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It is a rare spot to get breast cancer and doctors in Whangarei had told him it might be a fatty lump - like one Jackson had previously on his wrist - or an ingrown hair.
But when his new doctor made the call to cut the lump out in July, the biopsy revealed it was cancer.
"Luckily it was a slow-growing one," he said.
He had a second round of surgery at Tauranga Hospital on June 21. A significant amount of skin was cut out this time and he now has a scar that runs from his nipple, down the centre of his chest and under his arm.
"I look normal, aside from having a huge scar. My doctor said I look like I've been attacked by Zorro and my wife joked it was a drastic way of losing weight, getting all that fat cut out," he said and chuckled.
He had a third round of surgery before receiving radiation at the Kathleen Kilgour Centre.
Jackson praised the care he received at Tauranga Hospital and the centre.
"Nothing was too much trouble to explain," he said. "They would do drawings that showed what was happening in the surgery."
His mother had also suffered from breast cancer. She had a double mastectomy when she was 45 but recovered well and went on to live to the ripe age of 96.
"She'd take the dog for a walk and the dog would come home and collapse in a heap on the ground, exhausted, while she'd get up and go do something."
Today, Jackson is on the road to recovery. He has stopped radiation but said his energy levels tended to fluctuate. One day he could walk around Mauao, others he stayed in his armchair all day.
He admitted there were some "down days" and he could not have done it without the help of his family.
He was getting his genealogy tested to see if his children were at risk of the disease.
He urged everyone - women and men alike - to get checked out.
"Cancer does not care who or what you are. You're either lucky or you're not," he said.
"Get yourself checked. It only takes two minutes."
So far, he has not met another man with breast cancer but countless women had offered their support.
"I had never had so many hugs in my life when I got my diagnosis," Jackson said.
"Women can open up and offer their support. I've truly been taken into the fold and it's an honour."
Breast cancer in the Bay
The latest available statistics on the number of people diagnosed with breast cancer in the Bay of Plenty District Health Board.
2016 - 162 women, 1 man
2015 - 200 women, 1 man
2014 - 220 women, 2 men
Source: Ministry of Health