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  • Last night, I went to a party. I caught up with a few people I hadn't seen for ages. Here I am, chatting.

    "How are you? You look great! What's been going on?"

    We were both togged up in fancy dress, suits and bowler hats. He had a gold watch chain across his fancy waistcoat. He stared at my breasts, chastely swathed in white cotton.

    "I had breast cancer. I'm not ashamed of it."

    "Gosh."

    "The worst thing was the chemo. The surgery was ok, they didn't have to take the muscle away, thank God. Just the breast."

    I don't think of men as having breasts. Until now.

    "Blimey. Did you have to have a mammogram?" Silly question.

    He laughed. "Yes, and that was very difficult, because there's nothing to put between the plates!"

    We laughed.

    "It was a cell that started to feed on oestrogen. Men produce oestrogen, I didn't know. The cell went crazy and started to multiply and grow out through my nipple. They've asked me to talk to other men with breast cancer. I'm not ashamed of it. I'll tell anyone about it."

    He stared at my breasts again. I didn't mind. I felt he was taking an almost professional interest.

    "I had to go back to see the consultant. He said, we're giving you some tablets which will make you stop producing oestrogen. I must warn you, you will experience side effects. These will include (he consulted a paper) - hot flushes, night sweats, loss of libido and a dry vagina."

    I laughed until I cried.
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