Personal cancer story
I was enjoying a Saturday date night with my wife (dinner and a Michael Bublé concert), when I noticed a strange discomfort in my right testicle, as though it had dislodged from its usual position.
Being a typical bloke, I let it go thinking it would sort itself out. However, by Monday, the discomfort was more intense and unusual. I decided to Google what it could be? Big, big mistake. The search results were making me crazy so I closed the Dr Google.
That same day, I went to see my GP, who did the all checks he was able to do and gathered as much information as possible. My GP was unable to give a diagnosis, so he referred me for blood tests, urine tests, physical checks and an ultrasound the next day.
The ultrasound picked up a mass on my right testicle, but it wasn't identified as a tumour. My GP then referred me to a specialist who I saw a couple of days later. I walked into the specialist's office and, on first glance of the ultrasound, he gave me the news that took my legs out from under me. It was testicular cancer and I would need an operation to remove the testicle. I will never forget the day - 15 May 2014 - my Dad's 60th birthday.
As I was struggling to sleep the night before surgery, I watched an interview with Magic Johnson (the basketball superstar who contracted HIV) by Oprah. The thing that kept hitting me over and over again was his attitude towards his condition. He never let it get him down and he kept positive about everything, as well as grieved when he needed to. I decided to handle my cancer diagnosis the same way.
My GP also said numerous times: "Don't worry about tomorrow, just worry about where your feet are today. That's what you can control." This was the best advice I received. My spirits rose and I decided that no matter what the outcome was - whether I would be OK or had months to live - I would stay positive and only focus on the present day. There were days that I needed to simply step away and have my moment, and that was ok, but I made sure I got back to focusing on staying upbeat.
I had the surgery exactly one week after the initial discomfort. I had never had surgery before or been in hospital overnight and I was scared. I opted for the prosthetic testicle to be inserted as I wanted to feel as normal as possible.
The doctors worked very quickly to get the cancer out of my body. This is something I will be always be grateful for. I had the surgery late on Saturday night and broke my fast at 3am Sunday morning. Dosed up on morphine, the hospital sandwiches and custard tasted amazing! By Monday, I was up and walking around. I refused to be kept down and wanted to feel normal.
I have felt an incredible sense of gratitude since the day of my operation. I am so glad to have had the tumour removed and out of my body.
The following week I underwent a number of tests, sperm banking and check-ups. I saw the specialist again who told me that it was Stage 1 cancer and I wouldn't need chemotherapy. I was then referred to the sensational doctors at the Chris O'Brien Lifehouse, who have kept a close watch on me, as well as providing moral support.
I wanted to share my story to let everyone out there know that, no matter who you are, what type or stage of cancer you have, there is support around you."
I will always be grateful for the support I received from my wife, family, friends and doctors. I watched my wife find the strength to keep a close watch over me, ensure that I was eating properly and that my spirits were high. She also accompanied me to every appointment I had. When she needed a moment alone, she did everything she could to hide it from me, even though I did hear her cry a few times. The experience hit her as hard as it hit me.
The support from my family was also fantastic. One of my uncles called me every day. We would speak for hours, just talking or whatever I needed. My mum was also relentless in helping keep the house in order when we couldn't and be there for the operation. Another aunt and uncle called every other day just to see how I was. I saw my dad (an old school, eastern European builder) cry tears of sadness and then tears of joy from across the world.
We also saw our friends band together around us for support. We really were truly blessed. The support was amazing.
I wanted to share my story to let everyone out there know that, no matter who you are, what type or stage of cancer you have, there is support around you. You are not alone.
I also want to encourage men who find discomfort "down there" to see their GP and get it checked out. Getting a check-up is not the end of the world and losing one nut doesn't make you less of a man. Catching cancer early significantly increases the chance of survival. Be a man and get it checked.
Since sharing my story with Cancer Council Australia, I have had the privilege of speaking at Australia's Biggest Morning Tea and have appeared on the Studio 10 show, I have climbed the highest mountain in South America and I'm also extremely proud to say that Vicky and I are expecting our first child around Christmas Eve 2015. Cancer wasn't the end of the world - even though at the time it felt like it was, once it was treated I was able to return to do what I love most. But this comes down to early detection and treatment. One and a half years later, the chance of cancer returning is less than 8% and other doctors checks say that I am as healthy as I was pre-cancer.
Read more stories about people's personal experiences with cancer