How getting checked saved me

Mark Curlewis
Mark Curlewis
Testicular Cancer Survivor

Marc had been experiencing some discomfort in his right testicle and decided to go and get it checked out.

At first, my doctor thought it was an infection, but when a month long course of antibiotics did nothing to relieve the pain and discomfort; she referred me to an urologist.

Urologist testing for cancer
After running a few tests, the urologist informed me that he suspected Testicular Cancer.

So, with very little time for the news to sink in, I was booked to undergo surgery immediately. Although I did not know what to expect, I was hopeful and tried to remain positive.

Having established the full extent of the cancer, the surgeons removed my right testicle. Thankfully, because I had been informed about the warning signs of Testicular Cancer from a young age, the early diagnosis meant that the Cancer had not spread to my lymph nodes.

I think initially I was shocked, as you always expect something like that to happen to other people and never to you. This was followed by fear, but, after the operation, tests and a little bit of research on my part I felt a lot better about it. After undergoing a series of x-rays, scans and blood tests to determine whether the cancer had spread, my oncologist recommended two doses of chemotherapy to make sure that no undetected Cancer cells would be left in my body. Although the two heavy doses of chemotherapy were not only physically but emotionally draining also, I managed to take it all in my stride. I did some research and made an effort to keep informed about what I was undergoing. This, and a lot of support from family, friends and CANSA (Cancer Association of South Africa) got me through the rough patches.

Chemo is quite a scary thing to go through but I found that by doing a bit of research and educating myself with what to expect I did not have any problems handling it emotionally.

Testicular Cancer is the most common Cancer in young men. It most commonly occurs in men between the ages of fifteen and thirty-nine years of age, and yet it is a little talked about issue in our society.

I don’t really think I ever really made a conscious decision about whether I would speak about my condition or not. I think it basically came down to not being embarrassed about my condition, so when anyone asked me anything it was just natural for me to give them an answer. I think that it was also maybe a way to deal with it, and that by being open about it I could maybe help other men that were unsure about Testicular Cancer or maybe dealing with the same problems but feel too embarrassed to ask any questions.

Although Testicular Cancer cannot be prevented, it is one of the most treatable Cancers if detected early enough. It’s important for one to know the signs and symptoms, as well as to do regular self-examinations. According to the Cancer Association of South Africa (CANSA), from puberty onwards, young men should spend at least ten minutes a month examining their testicles. Knowing what signs to look out for helped my doctors diagnose the Cancer early, before it was too late. Just make sure to do regular self-checks and don’t feel too embarrassed to see a doctor if you find any problems. The quicker it is discovered the better your prognosis. And having Testicular Cancer or [the] loss of a testicle does not make you any less of a man.