Making Strides: Army vet stresses importance of cancer detection after scare

(WHDH) — Sergeant Gregory Jencks has spent years tackling unexpected challenges in the Armed Forces, but breast cancer was a battle on a whole new front.

“It’s one of those things you just don’t expect because it’s just not something that a male would actually think that he would get,” says the 48-year-old Rhode Island man.

About five years ago, Jencks noticed a lump on his left breast and went to see his doctor.

“The first thing he asked me was, ‘Do you have anyone in your family that’s ever had cancer or breast cancer?'” Jencks says. “I said, ‘Sure, my mom.'”

In the mid 1990’s, his mother had a mastectomy and underwent chemotherapy. She is now been cancer-free for about 15 years. Jencks didn’t fully grasp how fortunate he was until he started participating in Making Strides walks and other events.

“It really didn’t hit me until afterwards when I started seeing and going to these events,” says Jencks. “Other survivors and their stories. That’s when it really hit me how lucky I was that my mom made it through.”

During his own scare, Jencks started reflecting on his life.

“You start to kind of sit back and be thankful of everything you’ve ever done or have,” he says.

Breast cancer effects almost one in eight women in the United States. But among men, it’s much rarer at one in 1,000.

After about six weeks of waiting, Jencks received the news that his growth was non-cancerous. He’s sharing his experience to encourage everyone, including men, to be on the lookout for potential cancer.

“It’s just another way to just educate people,” he says of his own experience. “To understand that it can happen to anybody.”

For more information on the Making Strides walk in Boston, click here.

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