The former backfield mate of Jim Brown wants others to be aware.
CLEVELAND (AP) -- Monday mornings never hurt this bad when Ernie Green played for the Browns.
"I thought I was going to just break into pieces it hurt so bad," the former running back said of his eight sessions of chemotherapy that ended in March after he was diagnosed with breast cancer.
Green, who shared the backfield with Jim Brown on Cleveland's last championship team in 1964, underwent a mastectomy in September 2005 and months of chemotherapy that ended in March. He now wants other men to be aware that breast cancer is not a disease that only afflicts women.
"When it happens to you as a male, it blows you away," he said.
"Your world caves in on you when you learn something like that," Green said. "You don't know anything but the fact that you've got it."
The American Cancer Society estimates that there will be 1,720 new cases of breast cancer in men this year and 460 will die from the disease. Meanwhile, 212,920 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year and 40,970 will die.
Found out early
Green, 68, said he feels fortunate to have found the small lump in his chest and tells his brothers, his children, his Browns teammates and anyone else who'll listen that they need to check themselves.
Green remained stoic during the treatment. His toughness didn't surprise Dr. Robert Shenk, a breast surgeon at University Hospitals Case Medical Center in Cleveland.
"He was a football player when you had to have a job between seasons," Shenk said.
The doctor is pleased to see Green has made his cancer battle public, noting that while men are becoming educated about prostate cancer, not many are aware of breast cancer because of the low rate among males.
"Males should periodically check themselves," Shenk said. "Family history would make a male little more at risk as well."
That was the case with Green, whose two older sisters had breast cancer. One died after the cancer returned.
"I remember when my sisters were going through it," said Green, who runs Ernie Green Industries, which manufactures components for the automotive industry in suburban Dayton. "I'm like every man, you think about it, and you read about, and you consider that it is a disease for women."