Former Kiss Drummer Battled Breast Cancer

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© Lynn Goldsmith/Corbis

Peter Criss grew concerned after he noticed a small lump in his left breast. When the Catman, as he was known during his days as the make-up smeared drummer for Kiss, noticed that the lump was growing larger and more painful, he decided to see a doctor. After a series of tests, he soon learned that he had breast cancer, the Associated Press reports. Two years and two surgeries later, Criss is cancer-free—thanks to his proactive approach, doctors were able to diagnose and treat the condition early. Now the former rock star is on a mission to educate men about the disease.

Breast cancer is still relatively rare among men, representing roughly 1% of all cases. Yet, regardless of gender, it can be a terrifying diagnosis. Of the nearly 2,000 men diagnosed with breast cancer each year, approximately 440 will ultimately die from the disease, according to figures from the National Cancer Institute. (Nearly 193,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer each year, and more than 40,000 die from the disease.) Criss has said that after his battle against breast cancer, he wants to encourage awareness in other men. As he told the AP:

“It’s something we think guys don’t get,” Criss said. “Guys get prostate cancer, heart attacks. Men are men — women get breast cancer. Or so I thought… It has nothing to do with macho,” said Criss, best known for the 1976 ballad “Beth,” which remains Kiss’ biggest hit to date. “There’s no tougher guy than me. I was born in Brooklyn, I was in gangs, I did the whole battling thing my whole life. I think a man is a man if he steps forward and says, `There’s something bad going on and I need to deal with it.”

The news about Criss’s triumph over breast cancer comes just days after the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force issued new recommendations for breast cancer screening, igniting a heated debate among breast cancer survivors and medical professionals about the best ways to screen for the disease and prevent unnecessary deaths.