TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Paul Dombroski is the kind of guy who’s led a life of a surprises. The hairdresser owns his own salon called The Style Council in New Tampa, but he hasn’t always been a slave to the flat iron.
Dombroski once made his living on the gridiron. Over six years in the National Football League, he played for the New England Patriots, the Kansas City Chiefs and the Tampa Bay Bucaneers.
Making the switch to the hair styling business, he admits, is unusual. “I wasn’t one of those kids who said I’m going to be a football player, a fireman and a hair dresser,” Dombroski jokes.
But the 59-year-old is cutting and coloring his way through a successful career few could have expected. It wasn’t until late summer 2013 that his life took another very unexpected turn. “I’m sitting there watching TV, and I’m just kind of yawning … I feel a lump,” Dombroski explains.
The son of parents who both had cancer knew immediately he had breast cancer. Dombroski remembers the exact way his doctor confirmed the news was not good.
“Paul, your worst fears are realized. It’s an invasive ductal carcinoma,” he recalls the doctor saying.
A guy who dished out hits as a defensive back in the NFL took a major blow from a cancer that rarely affects men. In fact, the National Breast Cancer Foundation says less than one percent of breast cancer cases develop in men, and only one in 1,000 men will ever be diagnosed with the disease.
It’s why Dombroski is now breaking his silence and talking for the first time with a message specifically to men. “Man up,” he says. “I had to man up with breast cancer. What more do you want here? If you suspect something you have to act on it.”
His wife of 31 years, Caron Dombroski, has the same message. “The only control you really have over cancer is early detection. It’s not necessarily always curable, but the earlier you can get to it, the more options you have in front of you,” she says.
The Dombroskis haven’t told many people about Paul’s cancer battle before now, and the small circle of friends they did tell had one mission – pray. The couple is convinced that, along with Paul’s early detection and his immediate treatment, prayer made all the difference in his current clean bill of health.