When some people receive the all-clear from cancer, they are eager to put their illness and the dark period of their lives behind them.
But one brave 17-year-old testicular cancer survivor refuses to forget his cancer journey and is determined to help others by sharing his experience and knowledge.
Testicular cancer is the most common cancer in men aged between 15-45, with more than 2000 men diagnosed each year, according to male cancer charity Orchid.
When diagnosed, testicular cancer can be treated effectively – there is a 98% chance of survival with treatment if caught early – and it’s therefore critical that men are made aware of the symptoms, treatment and diagnosis.
When Reddit user theodo decided to host his own Q&A-style post, known on the social media site as AMA (Ask Me Anything), he was doing just that.
“I was diagnosed with testicular cancer late June last year, and had to have the testicle removed. After that, due to the kind of tumor I had, I had to undergo four rounds of chemotherapy which was everyday for 6 hours for 5 days straight, per round,” he wrote.
“I’m really doing this to try and help anyone who might be in a similar situation, or just make others more knowledgeable about what it’s really like to live through cancer as well as chemo.”
Within a matter of hours the post has attracted hundreds of questions from Reddit users eager to find out more about the illness.
What symptoms did you have that led to your diagnosis?
“The main symptoms were a swollen testicle which in turn was extremely sensitive. Just sitting down in school would feel like I was consistently being kicked in the balls. One of the worst pains I’ve ever dealt with, and I waited a week to see a doctor like a moron.”
Most 17 yr old males have no concept of their mortality. What’s it like being 17 yr old who realizes this?
“Honestly it’s very weird. It really makes you realize what in life is worth worrying about, and made me change my perspective on positivity completely. The worst part now though is anytime I hear high school kids bitch about their problems, I just wanna say “Did you hear my fucking bitching when I was doing chemo? No, you didn’t” but hey that’s not my job.”
What type of cancer did you have and did it travel to any other part of your body?
“I had a mixed germ cell tumor, with I believe it was 10 percent of the tumor being malignant. All though there were no confirmed spreading, there were marks on my lungs which is mainly why I had to do the chemo. Turns out the marks are still there, but they are so small the doctors have declared them as dead scar tissue.”
How terrible did you feel receiving that many rounds [of chemo]?
“I surprisingly only puked from it I’d say on about 5 occasions over the 20 days that I actually did chemo on. Worst day ever was a day my dad forgot to give me my proper medication, and I swear to you I have never felt that sick in my life. I thought I was going to die then and there. So just a tip, always take your prescriptions kids.”
How much do you think you’ve grown and matured from this? What is the biggest difference between you before diagnosis and you now?
“I think the emotional growth is unbelievable. I went through things I never thought I’d have to, and I made sure not to give up hope, as hard as it gets sometimes. The main difference in myself I think is my outlook on things. I used to be known as a very negative kid, but there’s no way I would have made it this far without being positive.
“A lot of people actually commented on how well I handled everything. In my mind, the more I acted like nothing was wrong, the closer to the truth it would be.”
How often will you have to get checked now to make sure the cancer stays away?
“Right now I have blood tests once a week, and a CT Scan every 3 months, which is the most important test. You have no idea how amazing it is to go from going to the hospital nearly every day to only once a week. It’s amazing.”
How do you plan on celebrating?
“I’ve just been doing the normal teenage partying you know? I’m still working on getting my body back to normal and stuff, such as my diet, getting into shape, as well as my immune system is still below average. After everything is back to normal fully, trust me I’ll be celebrating harder then anyone before me.”