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Personal cancer story

Joshua Bonello

In June 2011 I felt a lump in my testicle, just before my 23rd birthday.

Joshua Bonello

I went straight to the GP who said it was just a growth, or possibly a varicose vein. I felt some relief, but I remembered reading somewhere that testicular cancer is common amongst men my age. Like any normal person, I trusted the doctor's judgement because he was the one with a degree in medicine, not me.

Two months later, however, the lump had grown from the size of a pea to much larger than a golf ball and was causing me a lot of discomfort.

I decided it was time to see another doctor. This GP examined me and without hesitation he sent me for an ultrasound the same day, and made an appointment with a urologist for the very next day.

After asking some questions and examining me and my ultrasound scan, the urologist began explaining how curable testicular cancer was.

It only hit me that he was actually telling me I had cancer when he started talking about having some of my sperm frozen before surgery and the risk of becoming infertile after chemotherapy.

My mother started crying and I just went into shock. I left the doctor's office that afternoon and my life has never been the same again.

I had my testicle removed just seven days later. My biggest fear was that it had spread because I'd left it for a few months, but luckily it hadn't. It was stage 1 testicular cancer and because it was aggressive and fast-growing, I needed chemotherapy to be sure every cell was gone and it wouldn't come back.

The next few months were absolutely tumultuous for not only me, but my family too – Mum, Dad, my two brothers and two sisters who did everything in their power to make sure I was looked after.

Chemotherapy started approximately two months after surgery. Chemo ravished my body and I was barely able to stand up or even speak on some days. My mother would drive a two-hour round trip to pick me up and take me to hospital, while also juggling my two younger brothers who were in primary school.

"In the early days of my recovery I would often get quite emotional and depressed, but counselling helped.""

Joshua Bonello

In the early days of my recovery I would often get quite emotional and depressed, but counselling helped.

Now I have good news to share – I recently celebrated my six year "cancerversary" (the date of my diagnosis), and everything is still in check as I'm cancer-free. I've also started my own business, so I am only looking forward now!

I have built a great deal of emotional and mental resilience since my recovery, perhaps because my mind and body were pushed to their limits. I feel more motivated in my career, more in love with life, and people often say how much happier I seem than before. Even when I went through a break up with a girlfriend, I was able to use my experience with cancer to get through it: it reminded me that I have been in much worse places.

I'm sharing my story because I want others going through cancer, regardless of their age, sex, race and so on, to understand that they are not alone, and that no two stories are the same. You have the power to still be the best person you can be during the tumultuous time of having cancer – and beyond.

Read more stories about people's personal experiences with cancer