In one of the most emotional episodes of Newlyweds: The First Year so far this season, Brandon Liberati shared his struggles with gynecomastia, a condition in which men have enlarged breasts. This was something Brandon had been embarrassed about throughout his life, but once he discovered lumps in his chest, he decided to finally go under the knife to remove his breast tissue, given his family history of breast cancer.
However, Brandon was able to brave that difficult time with husband Craig Ramsay by his side. The Daily Dish recently sat down with the couple to discuss the cancer scare, why they decided to open up about it on the show, and how Brandon's health is doing today.
Why did you decide to share your surgery with the world?
Brandon Liberati: Well, first I didn't want to share it. I don't know if women really wrap their heads around how much shame there is for a guy with anything that's related to breast issues. And even the word and because of who I am, there was a lot of shame.
So deciding to do that was when I found out the statistics of the mortality rate of men that have breast cancer because almost 100 percent of men die from it because they don't get diagnosed. They all feel lumps. When they feel lumps, they feel them years before, and they ignore it. So I had an opportunity to just bring awareness. Do you know how many women were like, "I didn't know men could get breast cancer"? Like, they had no clue. What I had done was exactly what Angelina Jolie did [a double mastectomy], but I didn't get the implants. So I had fibrous lumps, and it was something that I had to take care of.
Craig Ramsay: This couldn't wait for numerous reasons, health reasons, but also it is something that was affecting our relationship and then our marriage. His lack of confidence from [something] that can be fixed. I don't think you would have actually went through with it, especially on camera, if it wasn't for how comfortable Dr. [Joseph] Cruise and his nursing staff made it for you, because they helped you heal the shame and the hurt that you felt from having this.
Brandon: And going into this, you're filming a show. I mean, you see everybody. Their best foot is forward. Makeup's on, hair's done, and I looked like sh**. And I was healing through the filming. There's a lot of situations that people don't realize. I'm sitting there in a compression vest with Spanx in my interviews that you can't have the air on. It's 800 degrees. So it was a very hard process. We don't even go into that portion of it, but it was really hard, and it was super emotional, because I didn't know if [Craig] could handle it. I'm serious. He can't even take out a splinter. If there's blood on me, he is out.
Craig: But something takes over you when your spouse is sick, and there's no other option. I had to make sure that I was [on] top of my game.
Brandon: So that's why we shared it. I've had a ton of boys that watch Bravo message after message. They're like, "I found this. I think I have this." So it's interesting how when you make yourself vulnerable and share something just like Ro [Brann] did with her father. I think when you make yourself vulnerable, and you actually go to a place where you normally wouldn't, it's amazing that's the place people get the most information and help.
What went through your mind when you found the lumps in your chest?
Brandon: Well, what happened was the first one, I was actually at the gym, and I was bench pressing, and the bar hit my chest. It hurt but in a really odd hurt way, like I hit something. So I was feeling my chest, and I had a lump. And then I was like, "OK, if I have one on this side in the same place, it's fine." And I didn't have it there. I had two more deep underneath. So it freaked me out because my mom has fibrocystic [breast] disease [breasts that feel lumpy]. I went into everybody, male and female, that have had double mastectomies in my family, and I just was like this would not be fun. Because my cousin, he, six months prior, went through it. They had to remove the muscle from his rib cage and reconstruct it with his thigh muscle. And just to see him go through something like that, that's not what I wanted for me.
How do you feel now having had the surgery and getting rid of something you were so self-conscious about?
Brandon: I'm wearing a white T-shirt. I don't even think about it now. And I will never, ever have to worry about breast cancer. They removed 99 percent of all the tissue, so there's no tissue. It's impossible.
Craig: And it looks fantastic. It's something that no matter how much he exercised or was conscious about his eating, it wasn't going to fix it. So I'm really proud of you for taking the steps forward in actually going through with it because once we got the ball rolling, you saw that it's nothing to be shameful of and I'm really proud of what you've accomplished.
Brandon: The episode, though, airing, a few days before, I was actually having post-traumatic [stress]. I was sort of like, "Oh my gosh. I cannot believe this is gonna air and people are gonna know this." And I'm like, "The next time I go to the gym, everybody's gonna know."
Craig: Yeah, they did know, but they can relate to it.
Brandon: Even people during Watch What Happens Live last night, they were tweeting, "Brandon, you look great, and your tits look great." I was like, "Oh my God."
Craig: But countless amounts of men have come forward to you and also women have been reaching out and saying, "Thank you so much. This gave me an option to have an open discussion with my boyfriend, my husband, my spouse about his condition."
Brandon: I had a ton of women reach out and say, "It reminded me of having my mastectomy, what I went through," because it's a really crazy process.
So everything is good now with your health? Your recovery went well?
Brandon: I'm perfect.
Craig: Just look at him! It's fabulous.
Brandon: I'll even go to a pool. You want to go to a pool party this summer? I'm there. Just no campground streams.