It all started with a routine eye check. My optometrist was doing her due diligence, taking pictures of the back of the eye. She spotted some inflammation and sent me for a CT scan, concerned that it might be a problem with my brain. The scan showed that nothing was wrong with my brain, but the inflammation wouldn’t go down.
That’s when I began – bouncing from doctor to doctor, for a barrage of tests – blood tests and X-rays and MRIs and three different biopsies. It was quite the journey, but in November, the results finally came in – and they were positive for seminoma, which is a type of testicular cancer.
Naturally, that’s not news that anyone wants to receive. When I got diagnosed, I was at a pretty pivotal time in my life. I had just started a new career in sales after years in the automotive industry. I had debated retiring, but instead I chose to do something I love – because you know what they say: if you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life. It was such a nice transition from my previous corporate role, with its endless meetings and weekly KPIs. I was really enjoying doing something new.
On top of that, my eldest daughter had just gotten married. And the holidays were approaching. We had travel plans, and things to do. I was 61 years young, and I didn’t see it coming.
Luckily, I did some reading about testicular cancer and learned that the success rate for curing it is high, so that helped a lot mentally. I’m right in the thick of it now – going for chemo treatments every weekday, and then having a nurse come to my home on Saturdays to give me an injection, which helps boost up my white blood cells. That injection makes every bone in my body ache. It feels as though someone is cutting through the bone with a rusty saw. And the chemo’s not fun, either. I’ve lost my hair and I’m losing weight. I’m bald, but I look good.
No matter what’s going on physically, what really matters is what’s going on mentally. And mentally, I’m strong. I have my family fully behind me in all of this, and they’re mentally strong, too. We’re an extraordinarily close family – we’re truly joined at the hip. And every single day I read the Bible and pray. That’s the best oncologist – believing in a greater power.
One thing I’ve found on this journey, though, is that as a man with cancer, it can be a bit lonely. When I lost my hair, I went online to search for a hat or something to cover my head. It was winter and I wanted to keep warm and to look good. I wanted to find the right hat, with no fixings or plastic seams or labels – maybe something made of bamboo or merino wool. But I got nowhere in my searches. Well, there was a massive amount of hits, actually – but everything was geared toward women. There wasn’t a whole lot of information or products designed for men.
But in my search, I came across Look Good Feel Better, and that’s how I ended up in one of the workshops. It was such a nice atmosphere – friendly, supportive, and very informative. And the products that I was sent were a real highlight. As a man, I never thought I’d need to moisturize or use an eyebrow pencil – but if I’m losing my eyebrows, it turns out that I do. It was so helpful to receive all the products and to learn how to use them. And it was fantastic for the workshop to be designed specifically for men. Cancer affects us all. It doesn’t have a gender or a skin colour or an ethnicity or a nationality. It’s so important to have an organization like this that’s open to all.