The Hat Project was created by the late Rhod Carmichael, who passed away from breast cancer in April. While undergoing treatment, Rhod, wore novelty hats as a way to spread awareness of male breast cancer – all whilst keeping his sense of humour intact.
The Hat Project evolved after the late Rhod Carmichael and family asked a group of friends to join them one afternoon to share the news of a diagnosis of Male Breast Cancer. The family suggested everyone wear a hat to protect themselves from the sun.
Rhod had always been a hat collector and when his treatment began his family encouraged him to wear a different hat to each treatment – the idea being keeping positive, injecting a little bit of humour and to start the conversation and awareness of Male Breast Cancer.
“It gave Rhod something to think about other than the day ahead and he loved seeing his mates sending their hat pictures through while he sat having treatment”.
Friends, family and complete strangers joined in sharing their pictures of hats as each treatment came around all the time building awareness.
His daughter, Alice, vows to continue his legacy by spreading the word about The Hat Project.
“A family friend had given Dad a number of hats from her travels overseas. This sparked the idea of using hats to keep up the positivity, humour and a way for to create an awareness of male breast cancer. After recovery Dad was due to start chemotherapy in late January. With each treatment he wore a different hat. Friends from all over sent him hats and his collection grew and grew,” says Alice.
Alice is encouraging others to take a selfie with a hat and share their photo on social media as a way to raise awareness of male breast cancer.
“Breast Cancer does not discriminate! Men can get breast cancer too! I hope that spreading this awareness will help men have a better chance of fighting this horrible disease, I sure wish my dad knew earlier! Ladies AND Gentlemen make sure you check your breasts,” she said.
How you can get involved
Want to be part of The Hat Project? Simply take a photo of yourself wearing a hat and upload it to social media. Use the hashtags #mensbreasthealth #hatproject2020 #menshealthweek and tag your location.
Male breast cancer stats in Australia
- 1 in 675 men are diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime
- More than 90% of men are diagnosed with breast cancer after the age of 50
- Mutations in the BRCA1 and BRCA 2 gene are associated with an increased risk of breast cancer
- Last year, 32 men died from breast cancer in Australia
Men living with breast cancer
George, diagnosed 2007
George was playing golf with friends when he noticed an irritation with his right breast. George’s GP sent him for a scan and a biopsy, which led to his diagnosis. Two weeks later, he had a mastectomy and his lymph nodes removed. Then, nine months later a routine scan picked up a mass on his left breast so he also had that removed. He has remained cancer-free since then.
“When I first heard I had breast cancer it came as quite a shock. Like most guys, I was unaware men could get this disease. Fortunately, I was diagnosed in the early stages and didn’t require chemotherapy or radiation,” says George.
Now 13 years on, George is the co-founder of Men Get Breast Cancer Too Forum, which aims to raise awareness of male breast cancer.
Peter, diagnosed 1999
Peter was diagnosed with breast cancer after a scan revealed that a pea-sized lump in his breast was cancerous. Upon his diagnosis, he was shocked to learn men too could get breast cancer. As part of his treatment, he had a mastectomy and six months of chemotherapy. He lost all of his hair, including his moustache which he’d had for over 40 years. He also struggled with the side effects he had from the follow-up medication.
Peter is currently cancer-free and works as an advocate for male breast cancer. Alongside George, he co-founded the Men Get Breast Cancer Too Forum.