By Ami Schmitz and Kristina Krohn
Partain got the shock of his life five years ago when he was diagnosed
with breast cancer at the age of 39. That he got breast cancer at all is
surprising. It's so rare that for every 100 women who get it, just one
“Five years ago I was just an ordinary father of four,
husband of 18 years. And one night, my then-wife gave me a hug and she
felt a bump on my chest,” he said in an interview with Dr. Nancy
Snyderman airing tonight at 10pm/9CT on NBC News’ Rock Center with Brian
When his doctor delivered the devastating news in a
phone call, Partain’s first thought was, “What contest in hell did I win
to deserve this?”
After his diagnosis, Partain was desperate to
answer the question, “why”? He said, “I don't drink. I don't smoke. I've
never done drugs. There is no history of breast cancer in my family.”
everything changed after he saw a news report, where a former Marine
drill instructor named Jerry Ensminger told Congress how his 9-year-old
daughter Janey died of leukemia, and that he believed her death was
caused by drinking water at Camp Lejeune contaminated with chemicals.
knees buckled,” Mike said, “I grabbed the back of the couch and I sat
there. I was like, ‘Oh my God, this is what happened.’”
son of a Marine, Partain was born at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina. He
soon learned that there had been a long history of suspicion about the
water at Camp Lejeune.
“The entire time my mother was pregnant
with me, we were drinking high levels of tetrachloroethylene,
trichloroethylene, and benzene in our water” he said. Partain believes
these chemicals caused his breast cancer.
The Center for Disease
Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that between 500,000 and 1
million people were exposed to the contaminated water from 1953 to 1987,
when the last of several contaminated wells were closed.
Partain has found 83 other men who lived or served at Camp Lejeune who have also been diagnosed with male breast cancer.
Peter Devereaux, a 50-year-old a former Marine, is one of them. He was diagnosed in 2008.
Devereaux remembers when his doctor first let him know he had breast cancer.
“I was just like, whooo. Even now I've said that so many times, it still takes your breath away,” he said.
READ MORE: http://rockcenter.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/02/22/17059795-men-say-their-breast-cancer-was-caused-by-contaminated-water-at-camp-lejeune?lite