Self ex­ams are the best way to catch tes­tic­u­lar can­cer early

Calgary Sun - - LIFE - JOANNE RICHARD Post­media Net­work

You’re nuts if you don’t lis­ten up! Tes­tic­u­lar can­cer strikes young — it’s the most com­mon can­cer in men aged 15 to 39 in Canada. It’s Tes­tic­u­lar Can­cer Aware­ness Month, and while the prog­no­sis is good, one in 20 don’t make it.

It’s time to grab tes­tic­u­lar can­cer by the balls. Will Joyce is one of the lucky ones. The 28-year-old Hamil­ton land­scape de­signer was di­ag­nosed about a year ago af­ter he checked him­self af­ter hear­ing a talk show en­cour­ag­ing men to check their tes­ti­cles for Movem­ber. Some­thing didn’t feel right — there was a bump and sore­ness — so he went to the doc­tor.

An ul­tra­sound was im­me­di­ate, and the very next day he got the news. On Fe­bru­ary 23, with his fi­ancee by his side, Joyce was di­ag­nosed with 3B tes­tic­u­lar can­cer: “It’s crazy to hear your chances of liv­ing com­mu­ni­cated as a per­cent­age, even if it’s a high one.”

His can­cer had in fact spread to his lymph nodes and they weren’t sure where else, pos­si­bly in his lungs too. “My urol­o­gist and sur­geon were kind and let me know that they typ­i­cally see a 80-90% cure rate in cases like mine be­fore putting me un­der — that was a tough day.”

One tes­ti­cle was re­moved, and an­other surgery fol­lowed six months later to re­move lymph nodes. In be­tween was nine rounds of chemo. For Joyce the worst part was not be­ing able to shield his loved ones from the scari­ness and worry of it all.

“I lost all my hair and gained quite a bit of weight through the process, but felt lucky to be able to fight what I was sick with. It wasn’t lost on me that not ev­ery­one has that op­por­tu­nity and many oth­ers have tougher fights than I had.”

Last Septem­ber he was de­clared can­cer free! In Oc­to­ber he mar­ried his “freak­ing warrior lady.” They got match­ing arm tat­toos: “We got this.”

And in case you’re won­der­ing, all his parts are in good work­ing or­der, laughs Joyce, and the fu­ture is rosy. Joyce adds that prior to surgery he worked with a fer­til­ity clinic to store sperm in case the can­cer or chemo im­pacted his fer­til­ity long term.

Now Joyce is help­ing spread the word for Tes­tic­u­lar Can­cer Aware­ness Month in April, and sup­port­ing self checks through the Movem­ber Foun­da­tion’s Know Thy Nuts cam­paign. Some­thing feels un­usual seek out help. It only takes a minute. “Men need to know their bod­ies and be dili­gent.”

This is­sue’s been cov­ered up far too long: “Men are used to tough­ing out dif­fi­cult sit­u­a­tions, and of­ten don’t dis­cuss health con­cerns,” says Ken Au­coin, Coun­try Di­rec­tor Canada for the Movem­ber Foun­da­tion. “With tes­tic­u­lar can­cer sur­vivors, of­ten one tes­ti­cle is re­moved. Some­times it’s both tes­ti­cles. This is in­cred­i­bly per­sonal, and has been stig­ma­tized in the past.”

Aware­ness is needed on this topic be­cause 70% of men don’t do reg­u­lar self-checks to un­der­stand what feels nor­mal for them, says Au­coin. With tes­tic­u­lar can­cer, early de­tec­tion is key to en­sur­ing treat­ment can hap­pen quickly so that the can­cer doesn’t spread. “It’s so im­por­tant to be feel­ing around reg­u­larly and go­ing to a doc­tor if it hurts or doesn’t feel right.”

Ac­cord­ing to can­, an es­ti­mated 1,100 Cana­dian men were to be di­ag­nosed with tes­tic­u­lar can­cer in 2017, with 45 deaths. More than 10,000 men in North Amer­ica will be di­ag­nosed with tes­tic­u­lar can­cer in 2018.

The Amer­i­can Can­cer So­ci­ety re­ports that the in­ci­dence rate of tes­tic­u­lar can­cer has been in­creas­ing in the United States and many other coun­tries for sev­eral decades.

Tes­tic­u­lar can­cer is so very beat­able, it just takes some knowl­edge and aware­ness to get ahead of it, adds Joyce. “Don’t be scared, don’t put it off be­cause you’re wor­ried. Just do it. You’re prob­a­bly okay and, if not, you can get started on your fight right away.”

For more in­for­ma­tion, check out ca.movem­ tes­tic­u­lar-can­cer. Can­ and tes­tic­u­lar­ of­fers life­sav­ing in­for­ma­tion and re­sources too on this disease.


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