Mathew Knowles, the father of singers Beyoncé and Solange, has breast cancer and opened up about the disease Wednesday on ABC’s “Good Morning America.”
“I also am a survivor of breast cancer,” Knowles told “GMA’s” Michael Strahan.
The 67-year-old, who was diagnosed about two months ago, was alerted to his condition after noticing a recurring dot of blood on his shirt, which his wife, Gena Avery, also noticed on his sheets. Shortly after that, he had a mammogram and doctors detected a BRCA2 gene mutation, which increases his chances of developing breast cancer and other types of cancer, too.
“I have four things to be concerned about: prostate cancer, pancreatic cancer, melanoma and breast cancer,” Knowles said. “The rest of my life I have to be very much aware and conscious and do all of the early detection — constant mammograms, constant prostate exams, constant MRIs — for the rest of my life.”
The revelation came at the kickoff of Breast Cancer Awareness Month and a splashy pink campaign that has taken over ABC’s nationally televised morning-news show.
“The first call was to my family because this is genetics,” he said. “It also means that my kids have a higher chance, a higher risk, even my grandkids have a higher risk. And they handled it like they should. They went and got the test.”
In a separate personal essay for ABC, Knowles wrote that his past work in the medical division of Xerox in 1980 helped him notice the red flag about his condition. There is also a prevalent history of breast cancer mortality in his family.
Knowles said he’s doing “really good” now because doctors caught the disease early. He had surgery in July and plans to have his second breast removed in January, which should reduce the risk of recurrence from 5% to 2%.
The former music manager is urging everyone, especially black men, who have a higher risk of developing breast cancer than white men, to take the BRCA exam (a simple blood test that looks at the genes.)
“I learned that the numbers we have for men on breast cancer are not adequate because we don’t have enough men that come forward that take the exam,” he said. “I’m hoping by me coming here today, speaking out, letting folks know that you can survive this — but it has to be early detection. I can’t over emphasize the word ‘early.’”
Barring some types of skin cancers, breast cancer in the U.S. is the most common cancer in women, no matter what race or ethnicity, according to the American Cancer Society. It’s still possible for some men to develop the disease in their breast tissue, though it’s not nearly as common — they account for less than 1% of all breast cancer patients. Men also carry a higher mortality rate than women do, the National Breast Cancer Foundation said.
Knowles managed Beyoncé's career since she debuted in the late ‘90s as the lead singer of Destiny’s Child, while her mother, Tina, acted as her stylist. They parted ways in 2011 and Beyoncé Knowles, in a later lawsuit, revealed that she had fired him. He also managed her sister Solange, as well as Destiny’s Child bandmates Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams, for a time.
He separated from Tina in 2009 after 31 years of marriage and after it was revealed that he had a child with another woman. They divorced in 2011.
Tina later married actor Richard Lawson in 2015. Mathew Knowles married Avery in 2013 and has had two more children since he and Tina divorced.