“Carpe Scrotiem! Don’t be afraid to check yourself and talk about your ‘boys’ with your boys!”
Justin was diagnosed with non-seminoma testicular cancer in 2016 but he didn’t give up on life and fought his way back to take control of his life & become a men’s health activist. He also runs a blog – A Ballsy Sense of Tumor.
“I found a lump while doing a routine self-exam in the shower in early October 2016 at the age of 25. After I found my lump, I called a doctor a few days later, which began me on the path that I elaborate on in the following question. My GP, urologist, and oncologist all stressed how important calling early and not putting it off was in a successful course of treatment. By late October, an ultrasound result caused my doctor to suspect cancer (this would be confirmed after surgery). The testicle was removed at the end of the month, but a CT in early November revealed that cancer had spread to my lymph nodes (officially my diagnosis/staging was Stage IIB non-seminoma testicular cancer), so I needed BEP chemo.”
“I started 21 treatments (5 days in a row, 2 days off, 1 day on, six days off, 1 day on, rinse repeat for three cycles) in late November and concluded at the end of January 2017. A scan in March showed that I was in remission, and I remain in remission as of December 2017.”
Motivation to fight cancer
“I knew I could survive and overcome this. I always focused on acting and less on reacting to bad news. My Grandpa (who was also a cancer patient, but of a different type and ended up succumbing to his illness) always said, ‘Just tell me what to do and I’ll do it.’ I adopted that attitude as my own. Losing my grandfather at 22 was really hard on me, and three years later, his mantra had come back to me to help guide me forward. On a larger scale, I wanted my journey to be about something more. When I was diagnosed, I couldn’t find a patient-friendly resource that detailed the entire journey (from discovery to the struggles of survivorship) and was written from a twenty-something’s perspective. I’m hoping to fill that void with my testicular cancer blog, A Ballsy Sense of Tumor, and am happy when I hear others have found it helpful. While that’s one of the missions of ABSOT, the main goal is to open up lines of dialogue about testicular cancer and men’s health in general. Testicular cancer is not talked about enough in society. My hopes are that sharing my story from beginning to end with an open attitude will stimulate more open discussion and bring a larger focus to men’s health in general. Knowing someone who is going through cancer can help make it more real to men who might not otherwise be concerned about their own health. I put my face where their balls are (which is a somewhat awkward turn of phrase).”
The biggest hindrance
“Physically, the hardest part of the journey was a five-day span of constant vomiting. I had gotten so close to the end of my chemo regimen (19 of 21 treatments) and just totally lost my lunch – literally. I haven’t been back to Olive Garden since. Emotionally, survivorship is significantly harder than dealing with active treatment. After months of grappling with processing what had happened in such an abrupt timeframe, I finally admitted to my doctor that I was experiencing depression and asked for antidepressants. After a few adjustments and battles with insurance, I found the right dosage and feel so much better.”
Message to other fighters
“Men need to start by talking openly about their health. I want to live in a world where we can freely talk about testicular self-exams. I want the conversation to be open about all health issues, but I’m especially passionate about men’s health. Not talking about it can be a potentially life-threatening mistake. Keeping each other accountable for performing regular self-checks is also critical. Without honest conversations, this accountability is impossible. I want to be a catalyst to start talking about testicles in everyday conversation. I want men thinking of me and checking themselves (hopefully not at the same time, but whatever works).”
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