Pinky Pie

Is blue the new pink? & Me

Posted on: October 23, 2009

Peter Criss does makeup much better than me.

Peter Criss does makeup much better than me.

I received a Facebook message Wednesday night about Peter Criss, former drummer from the band, Kiss:

“Have something in common, eh?”

I wasn’t sure if my friend, Jen, was commenting on my musical skills or makeup skills. Neither are very good.

The answer was that Criss had breast cancer a year ago, and he has made himself an advocate for men with the disease. He told CNN that he had no idea that men could get breast cancer until he was diagnosed.

“Somebody has to step up to the plate and say something to get them aware of how dangerous this is. Lots of men die: They wait, they don’t go in, they put it off,” he was quoted as saying.

In February 2008, he had a nodule removed from his chest that was not supposed to be anything serious. It turned out to be cancer. (That happens: men and women get it checked out.)

“I flipped out. I just couldn’t believe it. It’s a nightmare,” Criss told CNN.

It’s hard to take seriously someone who once dressed and performed on stage as KISS in full makeup and other accoutrements. But it is a serious problem and he wants men to take it seriously.

Men have some breast tissue behind their nipples, a reason they can get this cancer. The National Cancer Institute said less than 1 percent of diagnoses involve men. And that less than 2,000 American guys will be diagnosed this year, with 450 deaths. Symptoms include lumps, enlarged breasts, pain in the breast or discharge from the nipples. Men tend to be diagnosed later.

“Don’t sit around playing Mr. Tough Guy. Don’t say ‘It’s going to go away.’” Criss said to men. “It’s just important, just go get checked out. It’s not like you’re going to lose your manhood.”


Criss had the lump removed and didn’t need chemotherapy or radiation. As CNN reported, he had no scars so his doctor joked that Criss could still take his shirt off to play the drums. Criss responded with a laugh, “I’m in my 60s. Those days are over.”

Breast cancer ran in his family so he made sure that his other family members, male and female, knew about his diagnosis.

“It’s just important — just go get checked out,” said Criss. “It’s not like you’re going to lose your manhood.”

And it takes a real man to reach out to other men about this disease.

I can imagine it is embarrassing particularly in the swirl of pink – or the pouring of Pepto-Bismol on the world in October.

So pull out the blue for men with breast cancer or risk of breast cancer. It’s not all pink out there in Breast Cancer World.

P.S. I just saw another interview with Criss on CNN, where he said, “it is important to open your big mouth” and talk about this. I agree.

He also as asked what he would call a song about breast cancer if he wrote it: “Hard rock knockers.”


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