Criss, 63, told CNN he feels like “the luckiest man on the planet” and that he believes the illness was actually a blessing because it’s allowed him to speak out about the disease and raise awareness of a condition that, while rare, affects thousands of men a year.

The National Cancer Institute estimates 1,910 new cases of breast cancer among men in 2009, with 440 deaths resulting from the disease, according to CNN.

The former “Catman,” who was diagnosed after noticing a painful lump in his left breast after a workout in 2007, said men need to take a proactive stance and not buy into “this macho crap.”

“Don’t sit around playing Mr. Tough Guy,” Criss advised. “Don’t say ‘It’s going to go away.’ It might not and you might not see life anymore and how beautiful that is.

“So many people die from this. Somebody has to step up to the plate and say something to get them aware of how dangerous this is. Lots of men die: They wait, they don’t go in, they put it off.”

Criss had surgery in 2008 to remove what was initially thought to be a harmless nodule, but turned out to be cancerous.

“I flipped out,” he explained to CNN. “I just couldn’t believe it. It’s a nightmare. I was angry at everything. I couldn’t believe I had this. I was a really angry guy for a long time.”

Because the cancer was diagnosed early, something experts say rarely happens with men because they feel they’re immune from the disease and don’t get exams, Criss didn’t require additional chemotherapy or reconstructive surgery.

The drummer, who is working on an autobiography and an album, credited his family and his religion for helping him through the crisis and said he now gets a yearly mammogram, something he recommends more men do.

“It’s just important – just go get checked out. It’s not like you’re going to lose your manhood.”