An NCI-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center
Don Hoffman Success Story Image

Don Hoffman routinely displays a pink City of Hope breast cancer awareness pin on his collar – and welcomes the inevitable question: "Why are you wearing that?"

"I get the opportunity to say I’m one of the one half of 1 percent of diagnosed breast cancers per year that are men," says Hoffman, of Northridge, California.

In January 2011, Hoffman noticed the nipple area (areola) on his left breast was suspiciously flat, unlike the convex shape of his right breast. After several weeks, he consulted his doctor. "I couldn’t feel anything, nor could he, but we both agreed that it looked a little strange," said Hoffman.

Following a mammogram revealing a thumbnail-sized 1.6 centimeter mass, Hoffman headed to City of Hope. There, he underwent a needle biopsy that confirmed a malignancy.

He underwent a successful radical mastectomy of his left breast in March 2011. Thanks to early detection, the cancer had not spread to his lymph nodes.

Since then, Hoffman has been taking the hormone-blocking medication tamoxifen. Aside from occasional side effects such as night sweats and hot flashes (which he says endear him to women), he is now doing well.

The American Cancer Society estimates that 2,270 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed in men this year. Hoffman is determined to lower this statistic in the future by educating people about the disease.

After his diagnosis, he emailed male colleagues on City of Hope’s Board of Governors to let them know about his diagnosis, and suggest that they man up about their health. "The reason I am telling this story is to alert every man to the fact that we are all vulnerable to breast cancer and must be vigilant in observing our bodies," he wrote.

Colleagues later told him he had prompted them to seek medical treatment for conditions they had been ignoring.

These days, besides his work on behalf of City of Hope, Hoffman and his wife, Lois, travel the country taking part in square and "round" (ballroom) dance festivals. Wherever he goes, he sports his pink City of Hope breast cancer awareness pin – spreading the message of early detection as he enlists new recruits in his personal war on cancer.