Lewis rocking his Movember tee
Mo Bro Lewis talks us through his testicular cancer journeyImage by: Supplied
Lewis rocking his Movember tee
Mo Bro Lewis runs marathon with mountains in background view
5 April 2023

Lewis's story: Testicular cancer and becoming a Nuts & Bolts guide

4 minutes read time

April is testicular cancer awareness month. We caught up with Mo Bro Lewis to chat about his testicular cancer journey and his new mission to support other men going through a similar experience.

Lewis, can you tell us a bit about yourself?

I’m a 34-year-old Brit who moved to New Zealand six months before the pandemic. I love New Zealand’s outdoor lifestyle and like to keep as active as I can. Prior to my diagnosis, I felt invincible.

When did you notice something was not quite right?

I had just stepped out of a steam room and whilst taking a shower, I felt my left testicle and noticed it was very hard and swollen - like a conker. I tried not to panic and went to see my GP soon after. It took a few days before it was confirmed, but I knew from conversations with my doctor that it could potentially be testicular cancer. Once confirmed, I was feeling scared - but accepted that I was ready to do whatever it took to beat it.

What was your initial reaction?

" My diagnosis gave me sudden clarity about what was most important in my life – family and friends "

When the urologist confirmed I had testicular cancer, I had already accepted it. While it was hard to hear, it did not shock me. I felt relief because now we could get onto fixing it. One of the hardest parts was telling my parents. They were living in the UK and during the pandemic, NZ had completely shut its borders making it impossible for them to fly out - that was tough. However, my diagnosis gave me sudden clarity about what was most important in my life and suddenly the little stressors seemed trivial. It became clear to me that family and friends were what mattered the most to me.

What was your treatment plan and how was your recovery period?

Initially, my main treatment method was surgery, but I additionally also required chemotherapy as part of my testicular cancer journey. My time at the hospital moved so quickly that I had no time to actually feel anxious. I was admitted, saw some nurses and chatted with an oncologist. Someone double-checked with me which testicle was the offending one, drew an arrow on my stomach and then I was wheeled away.

Upon waking up, I immediately copped a feel. It took a minute, but I was eventually satisfied that they had, in fact, removed the correct testicle. The nurse told me the whole operation took just 60 minutes. Recovery was painful for a few days, but rest and some painkillers helped. After a couple of weeks and in consultation with my doctor, I slowly began to build exercise back into my routine - which made me feel amazing.

You mentioned you also had chemotherapy, what was that like?

I opted for the chemo, as I wanted every chance of the cancer being gone for good. My chemotherapy treatment lasted for around three weeks. I felt ill, foggy, and nauseous - my beard fell out and I couldn’t exercise so my mental health suffered a little. However, I was blessed to only have to do one round. After a couple of months, I was feeling about ninety per cent back to normal. A year and a half on, I am as fit as I’ve ever been – even managing to run a marathon.

When did you first hear about the Movember Nuts & Bolts program and what motivated you to become a Guide?

The first time I heard about Nuts & Bolts was when I started having some concerns and began my search for answers. The program was one of many resources I found whilst researching testicular cancer. I particularly found it extremely useful as it clearly outlined the journey and what to expect at each stage. I became a guide for Nuts & Bolts as I wanted to use my experience to create change in a positive way. If I could be useful to even just one person going through testicular cancer, I would consider that worthwhile.

Do you have a message that you would like to share with the community?

Get to know your nuts by giving them a check regularly. The earlier you detect an irregularity and get it checked out, the smoother your journey to recovery will be. If you have any worries at all – just go see your GP! If you do get diagnosed with testicular cancer don’t struggle through it alone. Lean on friends and family for support and laughter. It might be difficult but try and find the positives, even small ones. For me, it was clarity around what was important in life. It was creating the goal of running a marathon when I was back to full health and fitness. It was appreciating the loved ones around me. Despite the darker times that came with it, a part of me is thankful for what the experience has taught me about myself.

The Nuts & Bolts program is an online tool that provides support post-diagnosis and beyond. The site also provides the opportunity to pair up with a guide such as Lewis – someone who’s been through testicular cancer and knows what you’re going through, and who’s there for you every step of the way. Check it out here.

Unsure? Learn how to check your pair here.