I?m a testicular cancer survivor that was diagnosed with a Seminoma stage II over ten years ago. When I found the lump, I was also suffering from severe tiredness and I knew instinctively that I had cancer. Once I was diagnosed, it came as more of a shock to my family and friends than it did to me. It caused worry and anxiety, and I prepared myself for the worst.
My treatment involved removing my left testicle and six weeks of intensive radiotherapy. Shortly after my treatment, I developed pneumonia. Luckily for me, I responded to treatment and thankfully I?m still here to tell the story, and more importantly, raise awareness to others. Throughout my treatment, I remained positive and found an inner strength I never knew I had. Without fellow survivors, outlets and the LIVESTRONG family, I doubt I would have had the belief to keep going. I experienced many personal traumas before, during and after treatment, which to this day I?m fighting with. I was given the dreaded news that I can?t have children, and at the time, this hit me harder than my diagnosis. I now have ongoing health problems, but I still have my life and LIVESTRONG. I?m a family man and have the most gorgeous wife, Michelle, and step-daughter, Emma. All in all, everything is great and I’m continuing to LIVESTRONG!
I first became aware of LIVESTRONG just after my treatment. The support material sent to me was invaluable and gave me information on the side effects of my treatment, as well as offering advice on relaxation. My outlook on life has now changed, and I live every day to the fullest. As a LIVESTRONG Leader, I help others and give them the support to get through the biggest battle of their lives. I?ve also started a Facebook group – Get the Ball Rolling- where I recruit advocates with my ultimate goal of organizing a worldwide Testicular Cancer Awareness Day.
Cancer is on the rise. I?ve lost friends and family to cancer and everyone, it seems, has had a close friend or relative diagnosed with it. One of the hardest things for people diagnosed or affected by cancer is to talk about it. I wish to help change this, and I look forward to providing help and support to patients and their families, in particular, men with testicular, penile or prostate cancers.
Since I was diagnosed, I?ve participated in two running events. I?m currently growing a ?Mo? for Movember and running the MoRunning 10k in Glasgow. Participating in these events is particularly tough, but they give me an amazing sense of achievement. They also help with my own general health and fitness.
I’d like to now explain why healthy eating and fitness has helped me over the last year and how it can help any man, whether they’ve had a cancer diagnosis or not. Eating five servings of fruits and vegetables can help reduce heart disease and stroke and helps prevent cancer. If you should get a dreaded diagnosis, staying clear of junk food and following a healthy eating plan will mean you?re fitter and more able to cope with the treatment. This will increase your chances of survival.
Over the last year, I stopped smoking and felt a major difference since I took this fantastic step.
I have my taste back, I feel less lethargic and most importantly, I?m getting myself fit. My usual week consists of various fitness classes at the gym, yoga, pilates, body balance, jogging and walking. The benefits of keeping fit and healthy are numerous ways to help prolong your life. I recommend all of these activities I?ve mentioned; when you take care of yourself, you feel better, act better and tend to live a more full life. So, coming from an ex-couch potato, my advice to anyone would be: dump the junk food, eat healthy, stay fit and watch your life change!
Testicular Cancer is one of the most curable cancers if caught early, with a 95% survival rate. It is the most common cancer in young men between the ages of 15-34. The most common way to notice testicular cancer is either a lump or a swelling in either of the testicles. My advice would be to check your testicles at least once a month. The best time to do this is in the shower, as it is easy and you’re less likely to cause yourself pain. Use your index finger and thumb and carefully roll and check each part of both testicles, or if you?re a current survivor like me, you have it easy- you only have one to check! You should look for any changes in shape, texture, heaviness in the scrotum or size of your testicles, and if you find anything you believe is unusual, consult your doctor.
Remember, very few of these symptoms result in a testicular cancer diagnosis. Lumps and swelling can be anything from the size of a pea to much larger. The vast majority of these lumps are not painful. There are two main types of testicular cancer: Seminoma and Non-seminoma. Both are very treatable with an orchiectomy, followed by various treatments depending on the severity of the cancer. These treatments include radiation, chemotherapy and other treatments such as stem cell transplants and lymphadenectomy. Unfortunately, in some cases like mine, a testicular cancer diagnosis can affect your chances of having children; however, you can have sperm frozen prior to treatment to be used later in IVF or ICSI.
I hope this information raises awareness and cuts down cancer diagnosis in men. If you are unsure about a change in your body, get it checked out early. It isn?t manly to let things go until it’s too late. Remember, there are plenty of free resources and help out there to make you LIVESTRONG.
All the Best,
Mo Bro Jim Cook
LIVESTRONG Leader and Testicular Cancer survivor