Barbara Welsh and husband battle breast cancer - Tucson News Now

Widow spreads message that men can get breast cancer, too

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CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) -

When you think of breast cancer awareness, you think of pink ribbons, bras, and millions of women supporting each other.

However, not everyone realizes that 1 percent of breast cancer patients are men.

After being married for 41 years, you tend to share everything.

"Wherever he went I went, because people used to tell us you guys must be hooked together at the hip," said breast cancer survivor Barbara Welsh.

But for Barbara and Michael Welsh, fighting cancer was the last experience they thought they'd have to share.

In 2009 Barbara got the news she was diagnosed with stage 1 breast cancer.

"I called my doctor and she said, 'It's cancer,'" said Barbara.

She had a lumpectomy, and as she was undergoing treatment to get better. About six months later, her husband got similar news.

"He was putting his seat belt on and hit hurt him," said Barbara.

It was stage 4 breast cancer.

"We were in shock," said Barbara. "We just didn't know what to do.  He said, 'Why don't men know they can get breast cancer?'"

Turns out only 1 out of 1,000 men get the disease, leaving Michael at a loss.

"It was so far gone..it spread he couldn't get chemo or radiation," said Barbara.

But like in anything Barbara and Michael fought their battles together, using humor to get through the pain and to raise awareness.

"He used to walk around saying, 'I have half a rack,' so he made a sweater with a  big moose on it with one antler," said Barbara.

Michael fought the disease until he couldn't anymore..he made it one year to 2010.

Gene Williams with Susan G. Komen says although it's uncommon for men to get breast cancer, they need to pay attention.

"A fifth who get it die..those aren't good odds," said Williams.

He knows firsthand. He was diagnosed with the disease at the age of 17.

"I was young and I was lucky...breast cancer really cuts across all socio-economic boundaries..so it's a killer," he said.

A strong message Barbara is pushing out everyday, one ribbon at a time.

Barbara Welsh is cancer free now and says in honor of her husband she continues to spread breast cancer awareness to men wherever she goes.

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