Ben . 28. Sydney, Australia
In late 2017 I began developing what felt like what I knew to be gynocomastia or man boobs as the layman would call it.
I'm a fit, active, gym going guy with no history of antibiotics use so this was pretty weird.
I went to the local Doc and had them checked out he didn't seemed to phased and told me it was likely just fat...
A few weeks later I'm back in and now I have a painful lump on one of my balls, I'm pretty much a qualified google doctor like most of us, so I've done my research at this point and cancer flags are popping up left and right.
Doc told me not to worry about it and this is where my story takes a sad turn down the path of mismanagement. Long story short I go back a few times over a 3 month period and each time I'm told not to worry, even after I've had the lump felt multiple times. Eventually after pleading for it, I'm begrudgingly sent for the ultrasound by the Doc under the premise of no rush required.
Obviously now with my extensive knowledge, at a patients level at least, I know that things should've moved much, much quicker.
I'm eventually diagnosed with stage II b TC and have my orchiectomy literally the next day, crazy how fast things moved once I got into the right hands, which were the Uro-Oncology team at Lifehouse here in Sydney, Australia.
I like most guys at stage II and up, I went through 3 x BEP, and yep it sucked -massively. I went from 95 kg and lean to 80 kg and skinny/bloated over the 9 weeks. While I wouldn't recommend it to a friend as a casual activity BEP is a neccesary evil and extremely effective and what it does, we're young and strong, quick to forget and move on.
After BEP unfortunately my tumour had not shrunk, it had in fact grown, progressing me to stage II C...my tumour markers were back to normal but it had somehow grown, turns out I had a tumour that was mainly terratoma, a chemo resistant tumour. Lucky me I got to have more treatment and really get the full experience!
More treatment is spelt RPLND, do yourself a favor, don't google it while you're still having chemo and it's still a possible outcome for you. I was extremely lucky to be treated where I was and the urological surgeons were able to perform my surgery robotically, one of the very few times it had been done here in Australia.
That surgery was hardcore and I felt it for a good 6 weeks after, when it's done with the open approach you hear of guys in pain for months, so I'm a lucky guy and huge advocate for robotic surgery, 110% worth finding the very few experts that can do it and having them assess your case.
That pretty much brings me to where I am now with a few ongoing complications like sarcoidosis and hormonal issues chucked in for good measure.
Importantly I'm cancer free by my oncologists reckoning so its time to get on the path towards normality or whatever my new normal will be.
Cancer isn't one of those things where you are going to get a word in your ear and you're suddenly healthy. I'm fully aware that I'll live with the ramifications of cancer for the rest of my days, but who cares, I'm lucky enough to have a rest of my days and that's what matters.
You get a certain perspective and appreciation for life and living healthily that is very hard to communicate to someone who's never faced a life threatening illness and often times equally hard for them to appreciate. It's awesome the shift in mindset and has genuinely changed the way I see the world.
I hope my story can now push guys into getting this shit checked out ASAP. Such a big chance whatever lump a guy has is nothing sinister but when the alternative of getting it checked out leads to horrible treatments and maybe death, why not get it looked at. Importantly, and a lesson learned from me, is when it is looked at - ensure you get an ultrasound regardless of what the opinion a physical inspection produces.
Moving forward, personally, I see it as an obligation to share my story. I didn't get to live to just hold on to this shit and keep it private.
Guys as a whole are too hard headed and too stupid to get this kind of shit checked in the first place, we need to have conversations about this kind of thing early on in a young man's life.
Why does my girlfriend know literally everything there is to know about breast cancer and I knew jack shit about testicular cancer before my battle with it? Needs to change, if you're a member of the TC brotherhood reading this, first off get yourself healthy and strong and when you do, I hope you're then able to share your story with as many people as you can so this cancer gets the airplay it deserves.
For such a treatable and curable cancer it's crazy that we let anyone die
from ignorance to the signs.