CT Man's Battle With Breast Cancer Lives On Through Documentary

Bill Becker never stopped believing that he would beat breast cancer.

After he was diagnosed with Stage 4 breast cancer in 2011, Becker, a Bridgeport resident, became a vocal advocate for awareness and research of the disease in men. Together with Bob DeVito, a Waterbury man who was diagnosed a year later, Becker founded Breast Cancer Brothers, an online support group for men struggling with the "women's disease."

For more than three years, Becker fought the cancer that had spread to his bones and liver and inspired other men — and women — in their own battles against the disease.

He passed away in September, surrounded by family at his home.

"Truly he still believed, even after hospice was called, that he was still going to beat this," his wife Lisa Becker said.

Becker and DeVito had been working with a local filmaker, Nicholas Sadler, on a documentary chronicling their lives as men with breast cancer. They hoped the film would raise awareness, so that the early signs of the disease in men wouldn't go unnoticed. Men are often diagnosed at a much later stage of the disease because the warning signs are dismissed, Sadler said.

When Becker's health began to detiorate, he insisted that the filming continue, Sadler said.

"Bill was just insistent on making sure that people saw the consequences," he said. "He said you shouldn't die from a disease that you didn't even know you could get."

Becker and his family welcomed the film team into their home during the final days of his life, even allowing them to film DeVito's final visit with his friend and mentor, Sadler said.

"To watch these two men who have been together through so much saying good-bye," he said. "There's just a deepness."

DeVito said that the realization that Becker might not survive didn't hit him until he was in Becker's home that day.

"I guess my brain wasn't wrapped around the fact that I was there to say good-bye," he said.

DeVito, who is now cancer-free, said Becker was his "light in the darkness."

"I don't know how he stayed so positive," he said.

Sadler said the film, which he hopes to have completed in time for the spring film festivals, is now part of Becker's legacy. Even after his death, Becker is still influencing people in a huge way, he said.

"You think you're going to be telling one story, but the story really just tells itself," Sadler said.

According to the American Cancer Society, about 2,360 men will be diagnosed with breast cancer in 2014 and about 430 men will die from it. While breast cancer is about 100 times more common in women, because men have so little breast tissue, the cancer does not have to travel far to reach nearby tissue or lymph nodes and spread to other parts of the body. The organization says men are also more likely to wait to get medical treatment, because of lack of awareness or embarrassment. Men who are at high risk for breast cancer because of family history, or who notice irregularities in their own bodies, are advised to consult with a physician.

Becker's final strike against the cancer that took his life was donating his body to the Harvard Medical School for research, Lisa Becker said. The decision was not a difficult one, she said.

"We thought, what a great legacy to leave behind," she said. "To share his body with science to hopefully make a difference."

As Sadler puts the finishing touches on the documentary, titled "Times Like These," Lisa Becker hopes to turn Breast Cancer Brothers into a foundation. Her husband never stopped advocating for a cure, she said, and she plans to continue the fight.

"He was a giver and he wanted to make a difference," Lisa said. "And he never stopped."

Information on "Times Like These" and Breast Cancer Brothers can be found online at

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