Todd Herzog

Todd Herzog proved that, occasionally, lightning does strike twice. Todd Herzog

In 1971, at the age of 16, the St. Catharines, Ontario native was diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma, a rare disease in which cancer cells are found in the bone or soft tissue. Todd went through radiation treatment at Princess Margaret Hospital in its original location on Sherbourne Street in Toronto, and underwent surgery at Toronto General.

Todd learned that his previous cancer surgery left him more susceptible to being diagnosed with cancer again, and through the years, he had occasionally discovered moles containing basal breast cancer cells in the radiated area on his chest. Doctors had removed these cells and monitored his health closely, referring the otherwise healthy young man to dermatologists at Women’s College Hospital in Toronto.
 
During a routine examination, after having been told that all ‘looked good,’ Todd asked about a small black mark he’d noticed near his right nipple. A biopsy was done and was returned with news that he wasn’t expecting. “Todd, this really surprises me, but you have breast cancer.”
 
The March 2008 diagnosis was invasive ductal carcinoma (stage III). It was explained to Todd just how rare his cancer was. In 2009, 22,700 women in Canada will be diagnosed with breast cancer. In that same year, 180 Canadian men will receive the same diagnosis. Less than 1% of all breast cancers occur in men. Todd was one of those rare cases. He did learn that the risk factor for male breast cancer was modestly higher in men of Jewish ancestry and because of his previous cancer surgery, he knew there was modest risk too, but 37 years between cancer diagnoses was unusual. “It just confirms for me that no one can know our bodies like ourselves, and we need to be cognizant of changes,” Todd states.
 
Chemotherapy, initiated in April 2008, shrunk the tumor. His last treatment took place in August. The next month, Todd underwent a modified radical mastectomy, made more difficult because his previous surgery had left less skin in his chest area.
 
Today, Todd is back at work in Toronto. “I don’t quite have my stamina back, but that will come,” says Todd. “And my hair and eyebrows are taking a little longer to grow back than I anticipated. My leg is sore from where they took skin and tissue to reconstruct the breast, but all in all, I’m getting better by the day. I now get regular mammograms, see my dermatologist regularly and meet with my oncologist every four months. But most of all, I’m grateful to be here with my wife and kids, having beaten cancer for a second time.”
Reviewed: October 2013