20 November 2019

The Road to the Queenstown Marathon

I was having a shower one afternoon after going for a run and felt a small lump.
Real Stories | Testicular Cancer
What inspired you to share your story?

After receiving my diagnosis, I quickly realised that it didn’t only impact me, but also my the men around me. Having friends reach out and share their stories, with some even breaking down with emotion was something that made me realise that my story was something that could relate and impact a lot of other men.
How much did you know about testicular cancer before your diagnosis?

I hardly knew anything before being diagnosed. I knew that  if you find a lump it could be cancer related but I wasn’t sure about what being diagnosed meant and the processes that would be required after
Tell us about your diagnosis: When did you first suspect something was wrong?

I was having a shower one afternoon after going for a run and felt a small lump. I didn’t think much of it at the time but thought that if it got any worse then i’d see a GP. It wasn’t until I woke one morning in pain, and a testicle that felt twice the size that I dragged myself to an after hours GP to get it looked at.
What did your treatment involve?

First step was to undergo surgery to remove my testicle and the 4cm tumor. I then went and had a CT scan, which showed 4 further tumors in my abdomen. As a result I was diagnosed with Stage 2 testicular cancer and I underwent three rounds of a BEP chemotherapy plan, with each round lasting three weeks. During the first week I would be to the hospital for up to 5 hours a day receiving the lovely cocktail of drugs. For weeks 2 and 3, I'd go to the hospital for an hour every Monday, to receive a top up.

What was the recovery process like?

The biggest effect that Chemotherapy had on me was my fitness and energy levels. I found myself needing afternoon naps to get through the day and would often feel breathless after light exercise. Getting my fitness back took longer than I expected but understanding the chemo process and what your body has actually been through made appreciate the recovery process.
What role did friends/family play in the process?

Family and friends played a massive role in the process. It's not just you going through the diagnosis and treatment but everyone around you. I quickly realised that they are also worried, stressed and emotional about the whole thing and that they’re trying to put on a brave face to make you feel calm. They played a massive role in keeping you positive and lifting you on your ‘down days’ where you feel like shit. But in turn, I felt that by being positive and happy as much as I could, that I was able to lift them when they were down and help them with their emotions.
What were your milestone moments?

Being able to continue playing cricket throughout my chemo process was a huge milestone for me. The way that my club got around me and included me as normal, kept me driven to succeed, and almost added a sense of normality to the whole process. They raised over $13,000 for Movember in 2018 and became a source of inspiration to get through treatment and recover as quickly as I could. To win the Canterbury competition and finish 2nd in the country at the National Club Championships was a great way to feel like I've accomplished something special.
Did you make any lifestyle changes as a result of your diagnosis?

It put a lot of things in perspective. I no longer get stressed out or worry about insignificant things at work or in life. When i’m struggling with work or feel like i’m becoming stressed over something, I find myself comparing it to the middle of my treatment and quickly realise that it could be a lot worse.
Does testicular cancer still affect you in your day-to-day life?

It doesn’t directly affect how I go about my day to day life, but there still is the lingering thought in the back of your mind about whether or not it will come back. My physical and mental fitness is better than ever and overcoming testicular cancer makes me more driven to succeed. Knowing that I've overcome cancer, makes me feel like I can overcome any challenge that I face in the future.
What has been the most challenging part of your journey?

Putting my life on hold, whilst seeing all my friends and family enjoying theirs. When I was diagnosed I had just moved to London and had just started a new career. Since leaving university I finally felt that I had a purpose to drive me and I could see a future ahead of me. Whilst I put all that on hold, I saw a lot of my friends and family living their lives to the fullest and experience what I wanted to be doing. It's been hard to deal with that mentally and to not compare myself to them, but I’ve had great support from family and friends and I know that I'll get back there soon.
What positives have come from your experience?

I’ve realised what is a priority in my life and the impact I can have on others. It has brought my family and friends closer together and ultimately made me enjoy life more, knowing that I’ve overcome a pretty big challenge. Also to help share my message to other men and spread awareness about men’s health has been hugely rewarding and hopefully will help more men become aware of issues around men’s health.