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Franklin County man continues to thrive as male breast cancer survivor

It was a normal afternoon in 2000 as Richard Tutich spent his time working on his car – until he felt a twinge of pain as his car door hit his chest. Upon inspecting the area, he discovered a lump and became part of the 1 percent of breast cancer patients who are male.

“When my doctor diagnosed me, I asked him ‘How did I manage to get a classic case of female breast cancer?’’’ Tutich said. “And he said ‘We don’t know how women do it.’”

Tutich said the diagnosis came as a complete shock to him and his family since he was a male and had no family history of anyone with breast cancer.

After his diagnosis, Tutich underwent surgery in the Shoals area before taking a friend’s recommendation and going to MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.

Tutich had a total mastectomy on his left side and said he was fortunate to find the cancer had not yet spread to his lymph nodes.

“Mine, fortunately, since I discovered it soon enough – it didn’t have a chance to spread,” Tutich explained. 

As of August, Tutich is 19 years cancer free. Although he originally returned to the doctor for a follow-up every six months, he now goes once a year for a mammogram and exam.

Tutich said sometimes it is a bittersweet feeling because he never had to undergo any of the symptoms of cancer treatment, so he feels guilt for being healthy when so many people undergoing cancer treatment are not as fortunate.

“I never had any pain as a result of the cancer, so I just have to take the doctor’s word that I had it,” Tutich said.

Nowadays, the biggest piece of advice Tutich has for people is to be aware of their bodies and regularly check for anything abnormal.

“If you find anything that’s not right, have a professional look at it,” Tutich said. “Don’t diagnose it yourself.”