In preparation for our annual pink paper Saturday, our newsroom spent much of the week speaking with breast cancer survivors, health care professionals, volunteers and others affected by the disease.

Some of us heard stories of triumph and others heard stories of loss. But I find it safe to say that hearing these stories left all of us at the Herald Democrat with a greater understanding of how breast cancer can affect so many.

My family is fortunate in that we have little to no history of cancer, but several years ago I became worried when I noticed a lump under my own breast. I kept a close eye on the lump for several days, hoping that it would simply dissipate. But it didn’t and I grew more concerned. Not wanting to wait any longer, I scheduled an appointment with my doctor and headed over to her office for an exam, unsure of what she and her colleagues would find.

My doctor felt around the affected area and expressed some concern as well. She referred me to a breast care center in town and said the specialists there would run some tests and be able to give me a better idea of what was going on. I knew men could face issues with their breasts, but I never figured that I would be one of them.

About a week later, I walked into the breast care center and, predictably, was the only male patient there. As a man, much of the medical history forms didn’t apply to me and the many splashes of pink throughout the office made feel all the more out of place.

I headed back to an exam room and quickly learned that I would undergo a mammogram and ultrasound. Sensing my anxiety and fear, my doctor did everything she could to make me comfortable and explained that many male patients had similar feelings when they came in. We completed the tests and they sent me on my way.

A few days later I got a letter in the mail from my doctor in which she explained that my lump didn’t appear cancerous and that it was likely just an unusual side effect of medication I was taking at that time.

While I’m lucky that my lump didn’t turn out to be something more serious, I’ll never forget the care, understanding and respect my doctor showed me. The experience changed the way I think about men and breast cancer. There’s no reason any man should feel embarrassed if he finds a lump under his own breast. The best thing anyone can do for themselves and their family is to put aside pride and ask for help.

Happy birthday Sunday to Enoch Johnson and Isaiah Wroten, both of Sherman; Keith Hughes of Gordonville; and Cortney Hunkapillar of Greenville.

Happy birthday Monday to Betty Martin, Carol Baxley, Elaine McHanny, Stephen Bennett and Derricka Harris, all of Sherman; Shelia Smith and Lauren Harper, both of Denison; Obie Rutledge of Bells; and Karen Hannan of Colbert, Oklahoma.

Happy anniversary Monday to Dave and Ginger Ann Johnson of Sherman, 2 years.