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Ex-KISS Drummer Peter Criss Survived Male Breast Cancer, Raising Awareness

Peter Criss, KISS
Michael Ochs Archives, Getty Images

Former KISS drummer Peter Criss survived a bout with breast cancer, and now he’s working to educate men about the fact that they, too, can develop breast cancer.

The 65-year-old musician, who says he’s been cancer-free for four years, told Ultimate Classic Rock that while he feels great, he’s always concerned that the cancer will return.

“Every day I wake up and I get a pain, I think of the big ‘C’ immediately,” he says. “Because once it’s in your body, it’s evil, and I never thought I’d have that in my body. I even went into therapy over it all, because I just couldn’t believe it. You just have that fear, it never goes away. But I’m not worried. Every day above ground, my Dad used to say, is a good day.”

He recalls how he discovered the cancer. “It was a nodule, like a lump in my nipple and I discovered it when I got back from the gym,” he says. “Look out for bumps and pain, a kind of pain where you just know — this is a kind of pain I’ve never had before. I’ve had cysts and I remember them and I remember the doctor taking them out. This was different, it hurt like hell, it got bigger as I screwed around with it.”

He says he knew instinctively that he should have the lump checked out. His wife, who was also undergoing treatment for cancer, told her doctor, who examined Criss and then referred him to another doctor.

Criss was told he needed to operate right away, and because of early detection, all of the cancer was successfully removed. “That is the key, early detection, my friend,” he says. “The minute you feel something, I don’t care if it’s under your arm or your leg or your testicles or behind your ear. You must tell someone or go to your doctor immediately. Just sitting around, you won’t be here next year.”

Criss went public with his experience and started giving lectures at hospitals, raising breast cancer awareness among men. He says his efforts have inspired men to get themselves checked out. “I’ve gotten some calls from doctors, about men who did come in cause they saw me, and they did have it, and they did get it right away,” he says.

Criss plans to participate in the 2011 Making Strides 3K walk for breast cancer awareness in Point Pleasant Beach, New Jersey this Sunday.

[Ultimate Classic Rock]

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