VAIL, Ariz. – On Sunday afternoon, Khevin Barnes spent time at his keyboard writing a very personal musical.
“A lot of guys are diagnosed late and that’s really the primary reason it’s much more deadly to men than to women,” he said.
In May 2014, Barnes was diagnosed with breast cancer.
According to the Centers For Disease Control, men account for less than one percent of patients diagnosed with breast cancer every year.
Barnes found the lump himself and stresses the need for men to be proactive.
“Get over any inhibitions you have about touching your body,” Barnes said. “Check yourself, check the pecs. Do it in the shower. Think of the size of a BB or slightly bigger and it’s almost always painless.”
He was living in Hawaii at the time and got the news from his doctor in a phone message. That weekend, Khevin was saying goodbye to his mom.
“It didn’t hit me,” he said. “It didn’t have a chance to sink in until I was on the jet plane back to Hawaii. That’s when I first thought about it.”
Two weeks later, he had a mastectomy. He’s now almost five years symptom-free.
Barnes is now an activist, spreading awareness about male breast cancer.
“Really my job was to help other folks, to help other guys because I knew how difficult it was in those first months, you know nothing,” Khevin said. “Fortunately, I have a wife and a family that I insisted that I express it, talk about it.”
This survivor is expressing himself through his music.
“I’ve actually spent the last 18 months writing a stage musical about male breast cancer and my hope is by using that as a tool, people will come see and learn more about our disease,” Barnes said. “I’d love to get it on tour, I’d love to get it on Broadway actually, why not dream big.”
Dr. Pavani Chalasani, an oncologist and leading breast cancer research doctor at the University of Arizona Cancer Center, tells News 4 Tucson, one in 883 men are diagnosed with breast cancer compared to one in eight women.