OhioHealth O’Bleness Hospital helps local man overcome rare breast cancer diagnosis.
Charles Mash is truly one in a thousand. Not only is his unconditional optimism a rarity, his cancer is also. Men account for less than one in one hundred of all breast cancer cases, which usually occur in men between 60 and 70 years old. Charles is 45.
Although the odds of having breast cancer were generally low, Charles Mash did not rule out the possibility when he found a hard, golf-ball-sized mass under his nipple. His keen intuition – and assertive encouragement from his wife – is the reason he is alive today.
“I drove trucks for 19 years,” Charles started. “One day, I was setting up the risers on the flatbed, and it slid right down and hit me in my chest. It felt like something exploded inside of me! I looked down expecting to see blood, but I didn’t. I went to a mirror and unbuttoned my shirt. There wasn’t a bruise on my chest, but there was a lump I hadn’t even noticed before.”
The Right Place. The Right Time. The Right Care.
After a month of procrastination, Charles finally went to OhioHealth O’Bleness Hospital to have a mammogram. “My wife got on me,” he said lightheartedly. “I knew it had to be done, but I had to work and things to do.” After the mammogram, Dr. Neal Nesbitt, an OhioHealth Physician Group Heritage College general surgeon, moved quickly to perform the biopsy and remove the mass.
“I was very pleased with how quickly Dr. Nesbitt was able to get it out.” Charles said. “They confirmed I had stage 3 breast cancer. Dr. Nesbitt said it was very aggressive, and they wanted to treat it very quickly.”
After a successful surgery, Charles turned confidently to O’Bleness Hospital again for chemotherapy and radiation treatment. “I never thought about going anywhere else for treatment. My family doctor is with O’Bleness. Being able to have everything in one place is helpful,” he explained.
“Everyone speaks about the other cancer care treatment places that are far away. One is even a two-hour drive away from my home! I’m not saying that they don’t deliver great treatment there. But, I know that O’Bleness Hospital is backed by a higher level of care, and that makes me more confident going there.”
Nationally Ranked Expertise Brought Closer to Home.
Since 2016, O’Bleness has been a certified member of MD Anderson Cancer Network®, a program of MD Anderson Cancer Center. This affiliation is only obtained by adhering to strict clinical guidelines and treatment based on national guidelines of cancer care and best practices established by MD Anderson.
There have been many advancements made at O’Bleness Hospital to achieve this recognition. This includes a new space dedicated to chemotherapy and radiation treatments for increased patient privacy and comfort and equipping the department with state-of-the-art technology. This affiliation has allowed the hospital to enhance its standard of care to the community. Certified physicians can conduct peer-to-peer consultations and reviews with physicians at MD Anderson – the top-ranked cancer hospital in the nation. These consultations can help treat unique cases, such as Charles’ stage 3 breast cancer treatment.
After a series of chemotherapy, Charles underwent daily radiation therapy for a month and a half under the care of Dr. David Howell.
“Dr. Howell consulted with MD Anderson to make sure I had the correct beam size for my radiation treatment. Because of my body – I’m pear-shaped and my chest has a slope – they wanted to make sure the beam wasn’t too narrow to effectively treat my cancer. Knowing that that option to confirm my treatment made me feel good. Made me feel like I was getting the best care.”
The New “C-Word”: Confidence.
Charles has four relatives in his immediate family diagnosed with various forms of cancer, including his father. And, like his father, Charles would go on to fight it successfully.
“People around town call cancer the ‘C-Word,’” he said with his characteristic chuckle.
“I will always recommend O’Bleness Hospital to anyone who is fighting cancer, or just looking for healthcare. When my father had prostate cancer, my mother said she wished she would’ve taken him to O’Bleness Hospital instead because of the level of care she saw and how good the nurses and doctors were.”
The Mash family was so pleased with the oncology staff that Charles still makes an effort to visit them – even two months after his final radiation treatment.
“I had a grandson born in December while I was going through my treatments,” Charles stated proudly. “The nurses have watched him grow up. Sometimes I take him to my appointments and the nurses are happy to watch him or do whatever needs to be done to help me.”
Now, with his rare breast cancer in remission, Mr. Charles Mash is a glowing source of hope for others. “I didn’t let cancer stop me from living my life,” he said before offering this piece of advice to those who may have cancer: “Keep a positive mind-set. Your positive mind-set is what is going to get you through this. Make sure to lean on your faith. Remember, He is always with you. You’re not battling this alone. Use your family and friends for help – that’s what they’re there for!”
Cancer care in Athens
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