Archive for the ‘Medicine’ Category


Written by Robert Justin Lipkin on July 13th, 2007

Did you know that men can and do get breast cancer? My oldest and dearest boyhood friend, Mike Cotler, died of breast cancer at the age of forty-six. Mike was one of the very few people I’ve ever known who actually treated everyone, no matter their station, with dignity and respect. A lot of us talk about treating people that way. Mike never talked about it; he just did it. Mike’s loss first to his family and second to his friends is simply incalculable. One wants to say it should never have happened. But it did.

Mike and I were friends ever since we met in the fifth grade. When I first learned that he and I would be in the same class, I was thrilled. At long last, my class would be able to field a fantastic first basemen or pitcher on our softball team. We were both then ten years old.

Few things happened in our lives that was not affected and supported by our friendship. We enjoyed sports together, although Mike was a far better athlete than I ever was. We went to school together. We joined clubs together, but most important we’d laugh together. Mike had a fabulous sense of humor. Mike’s presence was an essential ingredient in my own self-identity whether or not he was physically present at any given time. I recall a vow we made to each other when Yul Brynner, the star of the was extraordinarily popular, that if ever we began to seriously lose our hair, we would do a “Yul,” our neologism for removing the remaining vestiges of hair from our heads. I did it; Mike never got the chance.

Sometimes I get angry and frustrated over our popular culture’s failure to adequately publicize the fact that men die of breast cancer. I remember ten or so years ago writing to a medical correspondent on one of the morning television news shows who was airing a weeklong series on breast cancer asking him to include just seven little words. “Men can die of breast cancer too.” He chose not to mention that fact. Well, MEN CAN DIE OF BREAST CANCER TOO. A comprehensive system of public health, including savvy, responsible journalists covering health issues should inform us about diseases we can prevent if caught early enough. How many medical reports on television or in print include these seven little words? MEN CAN DIE OF BREAST CANCER TOO. Indeed, though rare, when men get breast cancer it is typically more virulent. The nation, indeed the world, will benefit greatly if everyone had this information. Had such a system of public health been in place, Mike might still be with us.

On August 5, 2007, Lori Cotler, Mike’s oldest daughter, will run in New York City’s Half-Marathon to raise money for Male Breast Cancer. Those interested in learning more about breast cancer in men see this site.