Richard Roundtree Talks Denial Then Surviving Breast Cancer
Richard Roundtree best known for his portrayal of private detective John Shaft in the 1971 film Shaft and in its two sequels, Shafts Big Score and Shaft in Africa. Turning 72 this year, the great shaft continues to stay fit and eat healthy, after being diagnosed with the rare disease male breast cancer in 1993. No one, not even himself would have thought it could happen him being so fit throughout high school, college and as well as his acting career. Roundtree found the lump while filming a movie in Costa Rica.
When Richard Roundtree was diagnosed with cancer in 1993, he was bowled over.
“The doctor told me, ‘You have breast cancer,'” recalls Roundtree, who played John Shaft in the iconic 1971 film “Shaft.” I heard the cancer part first — it was only later that I heard the breast part. I couldn’t believe it.”
Roundtree found the lump while filming a movie in Costa Rica.
“It just didn’t feel right,” he says. “I’m a bit of a hypochondriac, so I decided to get it checked out when I was back in L.A.”
For years after his diagnosis and treatment for breast cancer, Roundtree kept quiet about his status as a cancer survivor.
“I was in the closet, so to speak, until after the fifth year when I was cancer free,” he says.
While at a celebrity golf tournament to raise money for a mobile breast cancer diagnostic unit, Roundtree decided to spill the beans. “I just got up and told everybody that I was a breast cancer survivor. The room was totally silent,” he says, laughing. “I think it dawned on people that men can be affected by this, too.”
Male breast cancer comprises only 1 percent of all breast cancer cases — not a surprising figure, since men’s bodies contain only about 1 percent of the breast tissue found in women.
In 2007, there will be about 2,000 men diagnosed with breast cancer, compared with 178,000 women identified with…