Dara McDonough

A Meath dad has told how he was completely “taken aback” after being diagnosed with breast cancer – RSVP Live, 14/09/2021

Dara McDonough, 59, found a lump on his chest while taking a shower back in March this year. He told RSVP Live: “It appeared overnight, 100%. It was a substantial lump and it definitely wasn’t there the day before. There was no pain. Every morning for about two weeks, I would have my shower, look at it and then forget about it completely.”

Dara admitted that cancer didn’t even cross his mind, but he did start to become concerned about the lump, so he went to see a doctor. After a scan and a mammogram, he was diagnosed with breast cancer.

“I was completely thrown. I had never heard of a man having breast cancer before. The doctor said ‘It will have to come off. Your breast and your nipple.’ I was there thinking ‘But I don’t even have breasts!’ I almost had to pinch myself, it felt surreal.” 

“I did something very stupid,” he admitted. “I Googled male breast cancer, and I found out that I had two, three…If I was lucky, I had five years left. I was in the departure lounge!” Thankfully things didn’t work out like that at all – the busy dad and courier company owner had his mastectomy just days after he was diagnosed, and got the all-clear after that.

“When I was told that my cancer hadn’t spread, I skipped out of the doctor’s office and down the street like a newborn lamb,” he joked. “If I hadn’t gone in sooner, chemotherapy would have been the best case scenario for me. I am lucky that I went to get it checked out so early.”

“At Professor Maurice Stokes’ room in Eccles Street, there’s a waiting room and every time I would go in, I’d be the only man there,” he went on. “No-one would make eye contact with me. I was made to feel very uncomfortable. As new patients were coming in, no-one would sit beside me. I was in there nine or ten times and it was the same scenario every time. I joked to the doctor that I was tempted to whip off my shirt and say ‘Look girls, we’re all in this together!’”

However Dara says he understands that he was in a “woman’s world” and many people don’t know that men can get breast cancer. “I told a few people that I had breast cancer and a mastectomy and they were baffled, they had no idea men could get it,” he said. “I wanted to share my story to raise awareness of it and I would urge men to go to the doctor if they find a lump, just as I would urge women.”

Dara is an ambassador for the Very Pink Run, organised by Breast Cancer Ireland.